Going into the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, few are giving TCU football a serious chance to beat Michigan. The unbeaten Wolverines are heavy favorites, but while they’ve earned their stripes this season, the Horned Frogs have also put together a season deserving of respect as well.
Despite the lack of love, TCU could very well win this game.
Behind their Heisman finalist quarterback Max Duggan, the Horned Frogs are capable of beating anyone, Michigan included. Sonny Dykes has had a month to prepare his squad for the challenge they’ll face, and how they’ll be able to crack Michigan’s code.
While it won’t be easy, they certainly have the pieces to do it. If things go their way, they should do it. Here are three reasons why that will happen and TCU will emerge victorious.
1. TCU will stop the run
Michigan is a running team. For most of the season, the Wolverines were one-dimensional.
That wasn’t an issue; with an offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award, and a running back in Blake Corum who was a Heisman frontrunner, they didn’t need to throw the ball. However, Corum is now out. Michigan’s rival Ohio State took the run away, and Michigan needed quarterback JJ McCarthy to have the game of his life to win in Columbus.
The Buckeyes showed that Michigan’s rushing attack could be stopped. Better play from their defensive backs, who were relatively shaky throughout the season, would have changed the outcome.
TCU has a secondary that’s been tested again and again playing in the Big 12. Michigan’s receivers aren’t a world-beating group. It’s possible to stop both phases simultaneously in the Fiesta Bowl, but it starts with stopping the run. Sonny Dykes seems to know this, and his Fiesta Bowl plan has a great chance to work.