The College Football Playoff semifinals kicked off in thrilling fashion as No. 3 TCU held on to beat No. 2 Michigan 51-45 in a wild, high-scoring Fiesta Bowl.
The 96 combined points marked the highest point total in Fiesta Bowl history, and the second-highest total in any College Football Playoff matchup.
TCU will face the winner of the Peach Bowl game later Saturday between No. 1 Georgia and No. 4 Ohio State in the national championship game on Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
Here are the highlights from the Fiesta Bowl.
Fiesta Bowl: TCU 51, Michigan 45
… and we’re off!
On the first play from scrimmage, Michigan running back Donovan Edwards shot through the TCU defense for a 54-yard carry.
Shortly after the big run, Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy scrambled to the TCU 2-yard line on third-and-7. Michigan chose to go for it on fourth down but had its trick play denied by the TCU defense.
TCU went three-and-out after the goal-line stand, but then disaster struck for Michigan.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, McCarthy’s pass was intercepted by safety Bud Clark, who ran the pick back 41 yards for a TCU touchdown.
Michigan went three-and-out after the pick-six.
The Horned Frogs put together a 12-play touchdown drive that ended with a trio of runs from quarterback Max Duggan, who threw for 38 yards on the drive. TCU took a 14-0 lead.
McCarthy hit tight ends Luke Schoonmaker and Colston Loveland for a pair of completions that combined for 48 yards and set up a 42-yard field goal from kicker Jake Moody.
On the first play of TCU’s next possession, Duggan’s pass was tipped and intercepted by defensive back Rod Moore. Then McCarthy hit wide receiver Roman Wilson for what was originally ruled a 49-yard touchdown. After further review, though, Wilson was ruled down at the 1-yard line.
Then linebacker Kalel Mullings came in for the carry and fumbled. TCU recovered the loose ball for a touchback.
TCU is rolling
After forcing Michigan to punt, TCU put together a 10-play touchdown drive, capped off by Duggan evading a sack and getting the ball to wide receiver Taye Barber, who ran into the end zone. The score gave TCU a 21-3 lead.
A defensive pass interference gave Michigan the ball at the TCU 41-yard line with five seconds remaining in the first half. Michigan brought out Moody to attempt a 59-yard field goal, which he made.
TCU led 21-6 at halftime.
Camara catches the Wolverines
Michigan wanted to run a screen pass on third down. But Horned Frogs corner Abe Camara read the play before the snap, blowing it up to get a tackle for loss and forcing the Wolverines to settle for three to make it a 21-9 game in the opening minutes of the second half.
The former receiver makes the grab instead of the INT
Mike Sainristil came up with the ball after TCU’s Derius Davis bobbled it, giving Michigan the interception and the ball in TCU territory.
Flea-flicking your way back into the game
Three plays after the interception, Michigan went for the home run. A perfectly executed flea-flicker allowed Bell to get wide open deep and haul in a 34-yard touchdown grab to make it 21-16.
TCU fights back
The Horned Frogs made sure they wouldn’t give the ball back to the Wolverines up by just five. On the first play of the following drive, Duggan found his most reliable receiver, connecting with Johnston for a 46-yard grab.
Five plays later, Emari Demercado ran in for a 1-yard score to put the Horned Frogs up 28-16 with a few minutes left in the third.
TCU gets another pick-six!
The Horned Frogs put the Wolverines on the ropes again after getting another pick-six. Dee Winters read McCarthy’s eyes perfectly, getting the interception and the score. TCU bobbled the snap on the PAT, but the Horned Frogs went up 34-16 following the score.
McCarthy on the move
McCarthy fought right back after throwing a pick-six. First, he ran for a 39-yard gain, and then on the next play, he ran for a 20-yard touchdown. Michigan went back to McCarthy for the two-point conversion, but TCU stopped him that time to keep the score at 34-22.
Demercado broke open a 69-yard run right after McCarthy’s touchdown run to get TCU to the 1-yard line. On the following play, Duggan kept the ball himself for the score to put the Horned Frogs up 41-22 in the final minute of the third.
Michigan keeps ringing the bell
The Michigan receiver made one last big play in the third, hauling in a 44-yard grab that was originally ruled a touchdown, but review determined he was 1-yard short. On the next play, Mullings didn’t make the mistake he made earlier and held onto the ball as he fell into the end zone. McCarthy was able to run it in for the two-point conversion, making it a 41-30 game right before the end of the third quarter.
Star defensive tackle Mazi Smith got the Wolverines the ball back at the end of the third quarter, forcing a fumble to put Michigan in TCU territory.
What a wild third quarter!
Both teams combined for 44 points in the 15-minute frame, with every drive ending in either a score or a turnover. In Atlanta, Ohio State fans were able to enjoy at least some of the craziness.
Shades of Elway
Wilson took the end-around and as he accelerated, he was hit below and spun around into the end zone. Michigan successfully converted the two-point conversion to make it 41-38 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
Johnston jets off for another TD
Michigan brought the pressure on third down and paid the price. Duggan barely escaped, dumping off a pass to Johnston. Once he turned upfield, there were no Wolverines to stop him as he ran 76 yards to give the Horned Frogs a 48-38 lead.
Where ya at, Wilson?
McCarthy had to improvise on second-and-goal from the 5-yard line. Luckily for him, a TCU defender slipped and Wilson got open to secure the touchdown grab to cut into TCU’s lead and make it 51-45 with 3:18 remaining.
TCU wins! … But not without some controversy
Michigan fumbled the snap on fourth-and-10 and the game appeared to be over. However, after several lateral attempts from the Wolverines, it appeared that Kee’yon Stewart might have committed a targeting penalty, which would have given Michigan a first down with 25 seconds left. But after review, it was determined that there was no targeting on the play.
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