Michigan are favorites over TCU in this year’s first College Football Playoff (CFP) game. The Wolverines got pummeled by Georgia at this stage last year and will be looking for a better performance this time around. TCU is the surprise team in this year’s playoff and will be the first team from the state of Texas to appear in the playoff.

We’ll preview this CFP matchup and give betting odds for it.

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TCU Was Not Supposed To Be Here

Before the season started you could find TCU’s odds to reach the College Football Playoff at +2000. Even when the Horned Frogs first landed in the top 4 of the College Football Playoff rankings back in Week 10, you could find them for +700 to make the playoff. All this suggests that no one expected them to be here. But here they are.

TCU is led by quarterback Max Duggan. Duggan was a Heisman candidate this season after not even being the team’s starter to begin the year. Duggan took over for an injured Chandler Morris in Week 1 and didn’t look back. The quarterback’s thrown for 30 touchdowns and 4 picks on the year.

Running back Kendre Miller has also played a crucial part in TCU’s success to this point. Miller is averaging 6.2 yards a carry this year and has 17 rushing touchdowns to go with it.

TCU’s defense will be something the Michigan offense has yet to see. Being in the Big 12, where the passing game reigns supreme, TCU has turned into a 3-3-5 unit. This means they have five defensive backs to stop the pass. Michigan is a run-heavy team. TCU will have to figure out a way to stop that first. If they can’t, it’s going to be a long day against the new and improved Wolverines. 

Michigan’s Team Is Better Than It Was Last Year

Running back Blake Corum established himself as a star this year. The junior found himself in the Heisman race but a late-season knee injury ended his season in November.

Donavan Edwards was the guy that picked up the carries, and he has not disappointed. Edwards ran for a combined 401 yards and 3 TDs in his team’s final two games. Expect Edwards to get around 30 carries on Saturday, especially if Michigan takes an early lead. 

As good as the running game is, it’s Michigan’s defense that is the real driving force of this team. Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter has his guys at second in the nation in yards allowed per game. This is impressive, especially considering the talent they lost to the NFL draft this past spring.

Michigan’s defense is without any big names but it’s been the play of their front 4 this year that has impressed. They’ve done a great job stopping the run as well as putting pressure on the quarterback.

TCU vs Michigan College Football Playoff Betting Odds

Odds are courtesy of FanDuel.

TCU+7.5 (-112)+250O 58.5 (-110)
Michigan-7.5 (-108-315U 58.5 (-110)

Michigan is a big favorite in this game. After getting blown out in last year’s CFP, NY sportsbooks are expecting a bounce back from Jim Harbaugh’s squad. 

Not many people took TCU seriously throughout the season. This may be a reason for their underdog role in this one as well. The Horned Frogs also lost their previous game, which was in the Big 12 championship, but still managed to hang on to a playoff spot. 

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Oddsmakers see Michigan as the stronger team on both sides of the ball. TCU will need some elite playmaking from Max Duggan, and Kendre Miller to break through against an elite Wolverine defense. 

Waiting for the winner of this game will be a matchup with Georgia or Ohio State. FanDuel is giving Michigan the second-best odds to win it all at +300. You can take TCU to be national champions for the much longer odds of +1800.

Prediction: Michigan 34 – TCU 20

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