There were highs and there were undoubtedly lows during the Michigan vs. TCU Fiesta Bowl.
Both teams kept trading blows and made big plays.
Both teams had miscues.
The game turned into a track meet.
The final outcome did not go Michigan’s way, losing to the Horned Frogs 51-45, but head coach Jim Harbaugh applauded the way his team kept clawing back, refusing to give up.
A case in point would be quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who made some of the best plays of his Michigan career, along with two of his worst. McCarthy threw two interceptions both of which were returned for touchdowns.
McCarthy was 20-of-34 for 343 yards on the day with two passing touchdowns, two interceptions, as well as 52 rushing yards and one rushing score.
It was a titanic effort. Just a phenomenal effort by J.J, a titan of an effort,” Harbaugh declared. “I am so proud of him just like he was my own son. What a competitor he is. The J.J. McCarthy that I know on a day-in, day-out basis, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly — he’s a great player, great talented player, great athlete, great leader. And the best thing about him is he always puts the team above himself. Tremendous competitor. Just phenomenal.”
McCarthy had a historic first season as Michigan’s starting quarterback, winning the first 12 starts of his Michigan career, a program record. McCarthy’s interceptions in the Fiesta Bowl will sting, but without him, the game wouldn’t have been as close as it was with the rushing attack often neutralized.
“His first season as a starter, I don’t think there’s anybody that’s ever done anything quite like what he did this year. And that was true in this game,” Harbaugh explained. “The throws that he was making, and the throws that Ronnie Bell and Roman Wilson and Colston Loveland and the guys were catching. I mean, it was at a very, very high level. No question about that. So it’s a tremendous testament to what they were able to do today and it wasn’t easy. It was tough to make underneath throws, so they were making the deep ones.”
Sheesh JJ McCarthy— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) December 31, 2022
And Roman Wilson — as we all knew and TCU is finding out — is FAST FAST pic.twitter.com/BscKCQIsyD
It’s not the outcome Michigan nor McCarthy wanted, but it was a valiant effort, even in defeat.
“He fought, he played his ass off,” cornerback Mike Sainristil said. “He did what he could to help this team out. That’s who he is. He’s going to come back and learn from this one, same way he did at the end of last year. Just come back and do what it is he does. He’s special.”