GLENDALE, Arizona (WCMH) — A back-and-forth thriller in Glendale, Arizona ended in victory for the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs and a ticket to sunny Los Angeles. The Horned Frogs defeated No. 2 Michigan 51-45 in the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium to make the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Jan. 9.
TCU’s victory was spearheaded by quarterback Max Duggan who scored four total touchdowns to make the Horned Frogs the first Big 12 team to make the CFP title game. TCU will face either Georgia or Ohio State for the 2022 national championship. Michigan’s loss was its second straight in a playoff semifinal.
Michigan began the game with some fireworks as running back Donovan Edwards had a 54-yard run to begin the game. Despite the early momentum, the drive ended for the Wolverines on a failed 4th and goal from the 2.
The tide then turned to the Horned Frogs who opened the scoring with a 41-yard pick six from Bud Clark and followed that up with a long drive capped by a Max Duggan run to make it 14-0.
With the score at 14-3 in the second quarter, Michigan flipped the script with an interception and a quick 50-yard touchdown throw from J.J. McCarthy to Roman Wilson, until officials reversed the six points and ruled Wilson down at the one. On the next play, TCU forced a fumble and got its second takeaway.
TCU made it 21-3 after Duggan escaped pressure and threw off his back foot to Taye Barber for another touchdown. To end the half, Michigan’s kicker Jake Moody nailed a 59-yard field goal to take the deficit to 15 at the break.
The second half started with a third Moody field goal after Michigan failed to score a touchdown from inside the 3-yard line for a third time in the game. Wolverines got right back into the game after picking off Duggan, setting up a short field and scoring its first touchdown on a flea flicker throw from McCarthy to Ronnie Bell from 34-yards out.
Duggan and TCU responded with another seven points on a quick six-play, 75-yard drive to go up double digits again. Duggan’s 46-yard throw to Quentin Johnston started the drive with Emari Demercado running from a yard to get the TD.
The Horned Frogs added to its lead again with its second interception return for a TD. McCarthy’s short pass was snatched out of the air by Dee Winters who brought it back 29 yards to extend TCU’s lead to 18 points. Michigan answered back with McCarthy running it in from 20 yards with 1:47 remaining in the third quarter, making it 34-22 after a failed two-point conversion.
TCU scored another touchdown right after, marking five consecutive drives resulting in a touchdown as Demercado had a 69-yard run to set up a Duggan sneak from a yard out for his third total TD. Michigan scored again after a McCarthy bomb to Bell put the Wolverines in place for another touchdown, this time a one-yard run from Kalel Mullings. McCarthy then ran in for the two-point conversion to cut TCU’s lead to 41-30.
A ridiculous 44-point third quarter ended with TCU coughing up the football and Michigan recovering it, marking the sixth turnover in the game. The ensuing drive was capped with a Roman Wilson 18-yard TD run on a double reverse as he helicoptered into the end zone, with another two-point conversion making it a three-point game.
TCU responded again by scoring a touchdown with Duggan throwing a screen off his backfoot to Johnston, who ran 76-yards for his first TD and get the Horned Frogs a 48-38 lead. Michigan scored a late touchdown as McCarthy found Wilson in the end zone on a five-yard pass to make it a six-point game with 3:18 remaining.
It ended 51-45 in one of the most memorable playoff games in college football history.