The 2022 Vrbo Fiesta Bowl featured two teams of destiny: Jim Harbaugh's Michigan Wolverines and the TCU Horned Frogs. We can't wait.
Left: Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images, Right: Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Fiesta Bowl Preview: Michigan Hopes to Avoid Second Early Exit, as TCU Keeps Dream Alive


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In the 2022 College Football Playoff, the game between the two and three seeds is expected to be the best. However, that has not been the case, as only one game in the college football playoff's eight-year history has been decided by less than 10 points. And this year's match-up between the Michigan Wolverines and the TCU Horned Frogs should be a more competitive game than what we have seen in recent years. The Wolverines were knocked out of the semifinal last year, while the Horned Frogs had just suffered their second losing season in three years. So, both teams are grateful to be where they are at, but neither will be satisfied without a win in the CFP Semifinal at the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl.

How to Watch the 2022 Vrbo Fiesta Bowl

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines watches his team during the second half in the Big Ten Championship game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium

Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

  • Date/Time: Sat. December 31, 4:00 p.m. (EST)
  • Channel: ESPN
  • Betting: MICH -7.5, O/U 58.5

TCU's Unlikely Road to The Playoff

Kendre Miller #33 of the TCU Horned Frogs reacts following his game winning touchdown run against the Oklahoma State Cowboys

Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

A new era of Horned Frogs football began this season as Sonny Dykes entered his first year as TCU's head coach, and he has had as good of a start as you can get getting his team to the college football playoff. The Horned Frogs played very well in a competitive Big 12 Conference, winning four straight ranked games in the month of October, and remaining undefeated throughout the regular season. But after an overtime thriller in the Big 12 title game, the TCU Horned Frogs were not hoisting up the conference trophy and were wondering if what they had done in the regular season was enough to get them into the playoff, and as you can see, it was.

Michigan's Revenge Tour Returns to the Semifinals

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy (9) drops back into the pocket during a college football game between the Michigan Wolverines and Indiana Hoosiers

Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach for the Michigan Wolverines, expectations have been high. A year ago, those expectations were finally met as the Wolverines took down their bitter rival, the Ohio State Buckeyes, won the Big Ten Conference, and earned a spot in the college football playoff. But the question of whether they could do it again was raised. Well, after being criticized for their weak non-conference schedule, the Wolverines took care of business in conference play. In addition to their win over the Buckeyes, Michigan beat Penn State, Iowa, and Illinois, and then wrapped up their season with a second straight Big Ten title. So yeah, they did it again.

TCU's Key to Victory: Let Your QB Fly, But Stop Michigan's Signal Caller

Max Duggan passes in the Big 12 Championship Game against Kansas State.

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Offense: Quarterback Max Duggan left it all out on the field in the Big 12 title game but hopefully has some more in the tank against this hard-hitting defense. Using the run game to open the pass game will be critical for the Horned Frogs.

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Defense: TCU needs to contain the run game and avoid second and third and short situations and force Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy to pick up first downs with his arm. Keep McCarthy inside the pocket and do not let coverage break down as the play progresses.

Michigan's Keys to Victory: Run TCU's Defense into the Ground

Michigan Wolverines running back Donovan Edwards (7) races 85-yards for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the college football game between the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes

Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Offense: Michigan needs to continue their dominance on their front line and lean on the run game to help open up the pass plays down the field. Donovan Edwards is an x-factor, and the Wolverines need to get him the ball as much as they can.

Defense: Force the TCU offense to be one-dimensional and eliminate the run game. Getting to Duggan early and stopping him from getting outside the pocket as that is where he is the most dangerous.

What to Know Before the Fiesta Bowl Kicks Off 

The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs mascot waves the TCU flag after a touchdown against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first quarter at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

If you told me at the beginning of the season that these two teams would be playing in the college football playoff, I would have called you crazy. The TCU Horned Frogs are coming off a 5-7 season and the Michigan Wolverines had not been consistent enough to earn that respect. Well, now they have that respect, and this program is finally where they want to be. But can the Wolverines go further than what they did last year and get to the national title game? Or will the Horned Frogs force them to suffer the same ending they endured last year? We'll know soon enough.

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Final Score: Michigan 38, TCU 24.

MORE: The Harsh Truth About the College Football Playoff Semifinals