It’s been almost a month since we have seen the Michigan Wolverines take the field and win the Big Ten Championship. After long last, it’s time to focus our attention on the College Football Playoff and Michigan’s matchup with the TCU Horned Frogs.
TCU went 12-1 with the only loss coming in overtime of the Big 12 Championship to Kansas State. TCU is seen by many as the weakest of the four teams in the College Football Playoff because of that loss and several close calls throughout the season. However, that does not mean the Horned Frogs lack talent. In fact, some of the top players in college football reside within their offense.
Let’s take a peek at three guys who can be the difference for TCU.
QB Max Duggan
Duggan’s meteoric rise this season is the No. 1 reason this TCU team has made it this far. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting after throwing for 3,321 yards, 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He also tacked another 555 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Duggan has been one of the most clutch performers in college football this season. You can never count the Horned Frogs out because he just wills them back into games. He’s led TCU to three fourth quarter or later victories this season. His performance in the clutch of the Big 12 Championship almost pushed TCU to a win as well. On the game-tying drive with less than two minutes to play, he ran for 95 yards in the four-minute offense. Despite penalties, a crucial fourth down and more, Duggan put the team on his shoulders and finished it off with a rushing touchdown:
MAX DUGGAN IN THE CLUTCH— Bet The Pigskin (@betthepigskin) December 3, 2022
TCU (+1.5) converts on the 2-pt conversion to tie it up in the Big 12 Championship
It was one of the most impressive displays of grit I have ever seen from the quarterback position. While the Horned Frogs would lose in overtime, it shows his burning desire to win.
The Wolverines have to be aware of this. If they get a lead, they certainly cannot just get comfortable and start playing lazy against this team and this quarterback. Just like in the Big 12 Championship, Duggan is going to give it all he’s got.
WR Quentin Johnston
One of the few things that has beaten the Michigan defense this season is 50/50 balls to big, physical receivers. From here on out, the Wolverines will be seeing a lot of that, and it starts with Quentin Johnston this weekend.
Johnston is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and is a deep shot nightmare for opposing defenses. He averages 17 yards per reception and had 53 catches for 903 yards this season. His plan is to go up and over corners to reel in some big plays:
TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston has everything to be a dominant pass catcher in the NFL.— Luca Sartirana (@SartiranaLuca) December 22, 2022
He can make things happen at the catch point, with the ball in his hands and by winning at the LOS.pic.twitter.com/cdV8lcRJN1
Unfortunately, some of these plays look eerily similar to the times the Michigan defense has been beaten deep this season. For the most part, it’s been great coverage from the Wolverines but guys like Johnston, who can make those contested catches, have been rather troublesome.
The TCU standout is projected to be the top at his position come the NFL Draft this spring and shows off legit speed with his large frame. I expect Michigan freshman cornerback Will Johnson to be in coverage after a strong performance against Marvin Harrison Jr. of Ohio State. He did a great job against arguably the best wideout in the country, so he’ll likely have to do the same thing against TCU if Michigan hopes to win.
RB Kendre Miller
Heisman-caliber quarterback, check. Elite wide receiver, check. But a premier running back too?
Kendre Miller has somehow been overshadowed by Duggan and Johnston this season. At a different program, I think he would be getting as much hype as Blake Corum. Seriously.
Miller has scored in every single game this season, with 17 total touchdowns. In seven of those games, Miller ran for more than 100 yards; he ended the season with 1,342 yards, good enough for the 18th-most in college football.
What’s crazy is how few carries Miller has done it on — 216 for the entire 2022 campaign, which amounts to about 6.2 yards per carry. That is also in the top-20 in college football.
I think this game starts with Michigan slowing down the run. The No. 1 run defense in college football is going to have a very tough test against this TCU squad. They’ll have to take care of business and prove they deserve that status against one of the best running backs in college football.