This year’s Fiesta Bowl is one half of the College Football Playoffs and will take place on Saturday Dec. 31. The New Year’s Eve bout will feature No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 TCU. Below you’ll find betting information and edges on the marquee matchup.
TCU (12-1, 9-3-1) vs. Michigan (13-0, 8-4-1)
Moneyline: TCU +280, Michigan -360
Spread: Michigan -9.0
Michigan is back in the College Football Playoff for a second straight season. The Wolverines will look to avenge last year’s poor performance in which they were bounced in the semis by Georgia in blowout fashion, 34-11. A win against TCU would either set up a rematch against the Bulldogs or a second bout against their hated rival Ohio State.
Many thought Alabama deserved to get in over TCU after the Horned Frogs lost to Kansas State in the Big-12 Championship Game on Saturday. As far as I’m concerned, the committee got it right. TCU lost a heartbreaker in overtime with its offense getting stuffed at the goal line to open OT. That all came after Max Duggan led a heroic touchdown drive at the end of regulation that included a game-tying two-point conversion. Duggan had 110 rushing yards on the day and a touchdown, most of which (including the score) came on that final drive.
Michigan unsurprisingly steamrolled Purdue in the Big-10 Championship Game. Its defense has allowed just nine points in the second half over the last two games. The Wolverines will be without star running back Blake Colum for the remainder of the season, but it hasn’t mattered much in the two games he’s missed. Donovan Edwards ran for 185 yards against Purdue and 216 yards against Ohio State.
There’s no obvious edge for Michigan despite being nearly a double-digit favorite. That comes mostly from respect for the Big-10 compared to the Big-12. TCU ranks sixth in points scored and 16th in total yards allowed with enough firepower to give the Wolverines defense some problems. Defensively the Horned Frogs could struggle to stop Edwards and Michigan’s sixth-ranked rushing attack. TCU’s defense ranks 63rd in rushing yards allowed.
Maybe the move here is to take TCU in the first half and avoid what seems to be the trend of Michigan steamrolling its opponent in the second half. Either way this could be a more intriguing game than the spread indicates.