GLENDALE, AZ- In one of the wildest college football games in recent history, TCU and Michigan engaged in a record-breaking track meet in the first College Football Playoff semifinal. Max Duggan led TCU to a shocking 51-45 victory over the Wolverines that went down to the very end.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Donovan Edwards took the handoff on the first play from scrimmage and took off for a 54-yard gain. From the 21, Michigan chipped away at the remaining distance a little at a time, but a trick play on fourth and goal led to the Wolverines getting stopped without any points.
On the next Michigan drive, TCU got on the board with a 41-yard pick-six by Bud Clark to take a 7-0 lead with 9:22 remaining in the first quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out, Max Duggan led a 12-play, 76-yard drive capped off by a one-yard run by Max Duggan to extend the lead to 14-0.
Michigan responded early in the second quarter with a 42-yard field goal from Jake Moody to cut the lead to 14-3 with 13:46 remaining in the first half. Next TCU possession, the first pass by Dyggan was intercepted. Then on the next Michigan play, a 51-yard touchdown pass from McCarthy to Roman Wilson was ruled down at the one-yard line. Then, a bad exchange between McCarthy and Kalel Mullings led to a fumble recovered by TCU.
Later in the quarter, the Horned Frogs had a 10-play, 83-yard drive down the field before Duggan threw a touchdown pass to Taye Barber to increase the lead to 21-3 with 4:56 left in the half.
Right as the first half expired, Moody connected on a 59-yard field goal to go to the locker room down 21-6 to the Horned Frogs at the halftime break.
Michigan started the third with 10 straight points after a 21-yard field goal from Moody followed by another TCU interception that led to a 34-yard flea flicker touchdown pass from McCarthy to Ronnie Bell to cut the lead to 21-15.
The Horned Frogs woke up shortly after, ripping off 13 straight points. The first touchdown came on a six-play, 75-yard drive before Emari Demercado ran it in from a yard out to make it 28-15. On the next Michigan drive, Dee Winters picked off McCarthy and ran it back 30 yards for the score. The touchdown was the second pick-six of the night and after a botched PAT, the score was 34-16 in favor of the Horned Frogs.
Michigan didn’t stay down, as McCarthy ran for 59 yards on the next drive, capping it off with a 20-yard touchdown run to make it 34-22 after a failed two-point conversion.
TCU responded 46 seconds later with a Max Duggan one-yard run that was set up by a 69-yard run by Demercado. Three plays later, Michigan answered again with a Mullings one-yard touchdown run. With the successful two-point conversion, it was 41-30 TCU.
The third quarter ended with a TCU fumble that was recovered by the Wolverines and set them up with incredible field position. At the start of the fourth, Michigan went 27 yards in two plays before Roman Wilson scored on an 18-yard run with another two-point conversion to make it a three-point game at 41-38.
Then, Max Duggan and TCU made it a double-digit lead again when he found Quentin Johnson for a 76-yard strike. Next drive, a 33-yard field goal from Griffin Kell made it 51-38 Horned Frogs with 10 minutes remaining.
Michigan found the endzone yet again seven minutes later when McCarthy hit Roman Wilson from five yards out to cut it to 51-45 with 3:18 remaining.
Michigan got the ball back with a chance to win the game, but a stop by the TCU defense sealed the win for the Horned Frogs.
BIG NUMBER: 96
Both teams combined for 96 points in the contest, which is a Fiesta Bowl record. 44 points combined in the third quarter is a College Football Playoff record as well.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Max Duggan
The senior leader had 278 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in the contest with two interceptions. TCU will now play in the National Championship Game against the winner of Georgia and Ohio State.