Michigan vs. TCU Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s CFP Semifinal Bets

Michigan vs. TCU Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s CFP Semifinal Bets article feature image

George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston.

  • The Michigan Wolverines take on the TCU Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff Fiesta Bowl with a spot in the National Championship on the line.
  • The Wolverines enter as favorites of -7.5, as the total sits at 57.5.
  • Check out how our staff is betting Michigan vs. TCU below.

Michigan vs. TCU Odds

Saturday, Dec. 31
4 p.m. ET
Michigan Odds
-115o / -105u
TCU Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

By Alex Hinton

In the first College Football Playoff semifinal, the TCU Horned Frogs will take on the Michigan Wolverines in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl. Given how the last two seasons have unfolded, it’s somewhat fitting that this is the matchup.

In 2021, Michigan began the year unranked, defeated rival Ohio State for the first time since 2011 and won its first Big Ten Championship since 2004. It became the first team to begin the season unranked and make the College Football Playoff.

Michigan was a 7.5-point underdog to Georgia in last year’s CFP semifinal but saw its season end, 34-11, at the hands of the Bulldogs.

This year, Michigan made it through the regular season undefeated. It defeated Ohio State and won the Big Ten Championship for the second consecutive season.

Meanwhile, TCU began the season unranked under first-year head coach Sonny Dykes. TCU survived a few close calls but got through the regular season undefeated and made the Big 12 Championship for the first time since 2017. It was unable to complete the season sweep of Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game but still made the CFP, where the Wolverines await.

In this year’s semifinal, it’s Michigan that’s the 7.5-point favorite. However, the total is much higher at 58.5 compared to 44.5 against Georgia.

Our team is mostly split on the spread with a slight lean toward TCU covering. However, our team favors the over, which has come down to 57.5. Read on for more analysis.

Michigan vs. TCU Point Spread

4 Picks

Coin Flip

0 Picks
5 Picks

TCU +7.5

By Dan Keegan

Our team is mostly split on this decision, with a small lean to TCU.

Michigan backers have history on their side. Semifinal teams favored by 7 or more are 7-3 against the spread, with the average margin of victory on those seven covers an astonishing 27.4 points.

The Wolverines are experienced on this stage and have a far more physical rushing attack. Their offensive line is perhaps the best unit in the playoff — maybe surpassed only by Georgia’s tight end room — and should be able to salt away the game in the second half by controlling the ball on the ground.

But five of our writers like TCU to cover the number regardless. They trust TCU’s coordinators – Garrett Riley on offense and Joe Gillespie on defense — who are regarded as two of the best in the game and have the second-half adjustments to prove it.

They trust TCU’s big-play offense, which ranks fifth in the country in creating explosives, and will be able to take big shots against a Michigan defense that ranks only 79th in Havoc.

They trust the 3-3-5 defense that Gillespie employs — which is so popular in the Big 12 but rarely seen in the Big Ten — will slow down Michigan enough to keep this game close.

They trust TCU’s excellent pass defense; cornerbacks Josh Newton and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson can man up against Michigan’s receivers on the outside. Three other teams with similar excellent cornerback personnel — Iowa, Illinois, and Penn State — held JJ McCarthy to 155, 208 and 145 yards passing, respectively, with only one score and one interception in those three games.

They trust a battle-tested TCU team that has learned how to win close games, and is finally healthy after a much-needed rest.

The Frogs were impressive in November despite an early-season bye week — in September! — that caused them to play nine weeks in a row.

There are compelling arguments to be made for each side, but our team leans TCU, especially with the half-point in favor of the underdog. TCU +7.5 is the play.

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Michigan vs. TCU Over/Under

Over 58

5 Picks

Coin Flip

1 Picks

Under 58

3 Picks

Over 58

By Patrick Strollo

Two of the elite scoring offenses in the nation will lock horns and claws as they look to advance to the National Championship. TCU and Michigan finished fifth and sixth in scoring offense, respectively, averaging 40.3 and 40.1 points per game.

The question heading into this game is, can either defense or the combination thereof do enough to slow down these elite offenses?

The Michigan defense has been solid all season, finishing as the third-ranked unit in the nation, allowing only 13.4 points per game in the 2022 regular season. This should be taken with a grain of salt, however, because the average final ranking of the scoring offenses the Wolverines faced this season was 87.1.

It needs to be highlighted that this Michigan defense was not stressed this season against nonconference opponents and faced generally anemic Big Ten offenses. In two games against top-20 scoring offenses, the Michigan defense was formidable but will now face what is likely to be its stiffest test of the 2022 campaign.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan, this season’s Heisman runner-up, comes into this matchup with nothing to lose after throwing for 3,321 yards, 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions this season. Duggan and the healthy Horned Frogs will clearly be the biggest test of the year for the Michigan defense given the stakes.

The TCU defense was just an average unit this year, finishing 56th in the nation in scoring defense and giving up 25.0 points per game. When we dive into the TCU rush and pass units, we find that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts with both the pass and rush defense exhibiting weaknesses.

TCU will be in for a long afternoon on the opposing side of Michigan’s ground-and-pound attack. The Wolverines’ fifth-ranked rushing offense is going to overmatch TCU. And through the air, JJ McCarthy has positioned himself as a clutch quarterback as the season has progressed.

Look for TCU to do whatever it can to turn this game into a track meet. The Frogs don’t have the defense to stop Michigan, so we should expect to see what we have already seen from Sonny Dykes and Duggan all season — a high-scoring and valiant fourth-quarter effort.

Other Ways to Bet Michigan vs. TCU

1H Under 29.5

By Dan Keegan

One of my favorite plays of this weekend is the under in the first half of the first national semifinal between Michigan and TCU, which sits at 29.5 at DraftKings.

Both teams are stronger in the second half. Michigan averaged 40.1 points per game, 18.5 of which came in the first half of games. This trend is even more drastic if we throw out its games against cupcakes; as an illustration, Michigan beat UConn, 59-0, after leading by a score of 38-0 at the halftime break.

In all six of their most critical conference games — Maryland, Illinois, Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State and Purdue in the title game — the Wolverines averaged only 14 points in the first half compared to 21.2 in the second frame.

The Wolverines will be looking to play this game close to the vest and keep it on the ground, relying on their physical offensive line instead of testing the excellent TCU secondary. This will lead to a faster clock in the first half, and more second-half scoring as Michigan’s physicality will be met in the first half but wear down TCU in the second.

Also, Michigan will be facing a 3-3-5 TCU defense that is popular in the Big 12 but more of a novelty to a Big Ten team. It seems likely that it might take a few possessions, some poking and prodding, and halftime adjustments for Michigan to fully crack an unfamiliar scheme.

TCU is also a strong second-half team, averaging 18.5 of their 38.8 in the first half. Offensive coordinator Garrett Riley and defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie are known for their strong second-half adjustments. TCU also won a number of games thanks to big second-half efforts against Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas and Colorado.

Michigan played in a semifinal last season, but this is uncharted territory for TCU’s coaches and players. It wouldn’t surprise me to see nerves and an adjustment period early in the game for TCU — the kind of thing that can cause some timing and rhythm issues for an offense.

Both offenses will come out of the gate feeling out the defense. TCU will be looking to match Michigan’s physicality, keep it close until the break, and create big plays in the second half with adjustments.

Michigan will look to establish the run with eyes on wearing TCU down in the second half.

I’ll take the first-half under 29.5 and play it to 28.5.

2H Over 28.5

By Alex Hinton

I agree with our team in favoring the over in this game. However, each team has been off for four weeks. There also may be a feeling-out process early with each team playing for a spot in the National Championship.

If you want to avoid a slow start, you could live bet the full-game total or target the second-half total. After all, these are two of the nation’s best second-half teams.

Michigan ranks second in the FBS with 21.5 second-half points per game. The Wolverines’ style is conducive to scoring in the second half with their big offensive line leaning on opponents. That unit often has created plenty of big runs and long touchdowns in the second half, lately by Donovan Edwards. Michigan’s offensive line will again have a size advantage over TCU’s defensive line.

TCU is averaging 19.5 points in the second half, which ranks seventh nationally. It has trailed in the second half more than Michigan, which means it’s more used to playing in close games in the second half and needing to remain aggressive offensively.

Quarterback Max Duggan is a gamer, and he is going to keep firing when his team needs him.

Nine of TCU’s 13 games this season have had 29 points in the second half. Just five of Michigan’s 13 games have had 29 points, but another had 28 points. Combined, these teams are averaging 41 points per game in the second half.

You could wait to live bet to see how the game is going, but they would only need 29 second points for this line to hit.

Pick: 2H Over 28.5

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