The #3 TCU Horned Frogs and #2 Michigan Wolverines are set for a New Year’s Eve clash in the Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal. It’s the first ever meeting between the two programs, with Big Blue entering as back to back Big Ten Champions and returning to the Playoff looking for a win after falling to eventual National Champion Georgia Bulldogs last season. TCU came out of no where in its first season under Sonny Dykes to complete an undefeated regular season and earn the 3-seed despite its overtime loss in the Big 12 Championship. Which players will step up to exceed market expectations to send his team to the National Championship game?
Note: Prop lines are from DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change
J.J. McCarthy (Mich)
- Pass TDs: Over 1.5 (+115); Under 1.5 (-155)
- Pass Yards: Over 204.5 (-115); Under 204.5 (-115)
- Interceptions: Over 0.5 (-120); Under 0.5 (-110)
- Rush Yards: Over 16.5 (-115); Under 16.5 (-115)
McCarthy took over the starting job from Cade McNamara and has led a stellar season for the Wolverines. With only 3 interceptions on 288 attempts this season, it is a bit surprising to see McCarthy favored to throw a pick to the Frogs - perhaps a nod to the TCU Secondary or just a reflection of a fair probability of an interception in any game. Similarly, it seems curious that the market favors the former 5-Star to throw fewer than 2 TDs; McCarthy only has 5 games started wherein he didn’t throw multiple TD passes. McCarthy only has 4 games vs. Power 5 opponents with even 167+ yards passing, but those were against Ohio State, Illinois, and Maryland - games where Michigan was challenged - so maybe his arm will be necessary against the Frogs. As for his legs, this rushing total looks quite low; considering TCU’s limited sacks to force negative rush yards and McCarthy averaging 19.5 rush yards per game.
Max Duggan (TCU)
- Pass TDs: Over 1.5 (+105); Under 1.5 (-135)
- Pass Yards: Over 240.5 (-115); Under 240.5 (-115)
- Interceptions: Over 0.5 (-235); Under 0.5 (+170)
- Rush Yards: Over 24.5 (-115); Under 24.5 (-115)
Heisman runner-up Max Duggan is looking to extend his remarkable season. Being a massive favorite to throw an interceptions, while only tossing four over 368 attempts this season. Michigan may sport the best defense TCU has faced all season, but that line seems to be way off base - even if you think it’s more likely than not that Duggan has a giveaway, the plus money to the under is attractive. Same is true for the touchdown prop: Duggan averages 2.5 TD passes per start and only has 3 games without multiple scoring tosses. The pass yard prop would represent the 4th lowest of the season ,as Duggan has averaged 274.5 pass yards per game. On the ground, I’d be very concerned about sack yardage accumulating against Duggan if taking the over, as Duggan has had 7 games under this number on the season and will see the the toughest defensive front TCU has faced yet.
Donovan Edwards (Mich)
- Rush TD: Over 1.5 (+185); Under 1.5 (-255)
- Rush Yards: Over 136.5 (-135); Under 136.5 (-125)
Edwards has been a superstar when it’s mattered most for Michigan, even as fellow backfield mate Blake Corum garnered the national acclaim. The former 5-Star put up monster performances against Penn State, Ohio State, and Purdue, easily surpassing this yardage total in each game (191.3 yards per game in those three contests). He also had multiple TDs against the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes, so one could see the case to jump on the plus-money to the over for Edwards to reach the endzone twice.
Kendre Miller (TCU)
- Rush TD: Over 0.5 (-140); Under 0.5 (+105)
- Rush Yards: Over 75.5 (-115); Under 75.5 (-115)
Kendre Miller has scored in every game this season and is favored to do so again vs. the Wolverines. Even against the strong Michigan D-Line, Miller has to be considered the most likely Frog to find pay dirt in the desert. The Wolverine defense has allowed under 75.5 total rushing yards five times this season, so for a single player to get there seems like a big ask. However, it may be a task Miller is up to, as he’s gone over this number 9 times this season, with 7 games over 100 yards rushing.
- Cornelius Johnson (Mich): Over 0.5 (+235); Under 0.5 (-340)
- Ronnie Bell (Mich): Over 0.5 (+180); Under 0.5 (-250)
Johnson has double the number of TDs on the season, yet has the far longer odds to score against the Horned Frogs. Although Bell is the yardage hog, the plus-money on Cornelius makes him the more intriguing option of these. It is notable that the Tight Ends are absent from these odds for now, as Schoonmaker and Loveland each have a strong case to be high on the list of Wolverines likely to catch a TD.
- Derius Davis (TCU): Over 0.5 (+290); Under 0.5 (-425)
- Kendre Miller (TCU): Over 0.5 (+900); Under 0.5 (-3000)
- Quentin Johnston (TCU): Over 0.5 (+175); Under 0.5 (-240)
- Taye Barber (TCU): Over 0.5 (+250); Under 0.5 (-360)
Johnston is surely the most likely to convert a receiving TD for the Frogs, however Derius Davis has as many TDs on the season and Taye Barber with only one fewer each have far longer odds to score; solid value on the The interesting thing here is Kendre Miller even being listed as an option, having no TD receptions on the season - one may think that someone with a heavy bankroll wanted to get a play down on Miller and needed odds posted. Miller has averaged just over one catch per game, so would seem far-fetched for that one reception going for a TD...but at +900 it might just be crazy enough to work.
- Cornelius Johnson (Mich): Over 38.5 (-115); Under 38.5 (-115)
- Ronnie Bell (Mich): Over 53.5 (-115); Under 53.5 (-115)
- Donovan Edwards (Mich): Over 12.5 (-120); Under 12.5 (-110)
Cornelius Johnson went wild against Ohio State, but outside of that explosion has only gone over 38.5 yards three times during the season, so even with a number that appears ludicrously low given the performance vs. the Buckeyes, proceed with caution. On the other side, the Edwards number may be truly too low: with Corum healthy, Edwards went over this number in five games, but when operating in the lead role he’s gone under each time. TCU’s Defense is vulnerable RB receptions and this matchup lends to Edwards flexing that skill. Ronnie Bell is the Wolverines’ leading receiver, but has only gone over 53.5 four times against Power Five competition on the season. Bell had a solid game against Illinois, the best DB group he faced yet, but it was still only 3 receptions for 44 yards. Bell is the most likely candidate for a big receiving day, but with Josh Newton and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson on the other side, he may be held in check.
- Derius Davis (TCU): Over 32.5 (115); Under 32.5 (-115)
- Kendre Miller (TCU): Over 9.5 (-110); Under 9.5 (-120)
- Quentin Johnston (TCU): Over 70.5 (-115); Under 70.5 (-115)
Johnston is an elite WR, but has only gone over 70 yards 5 times on the season. The Michigan DB combo of DJ Turner and Will Johnson both have the size and strength to match up with QJ, but Max Duggan and Johnston have a connection that TCU will look to get working early and often, giving him a chance to go over here. While barely averaging a catch per games, Kendre Miller does often take those receptions for 10 yards or better, doing so in 7 games this year. The Frogs may look to keep an attacking Michigan defense off balance by working some screen game or moving Miller out of the backfield for some opportunities. Derius Davis is the X-Factor of this contest, with the chance to break the game open for the Frogs. His receiving prop line has jumped from 27.5 up to 32.5 as the Frogs may lean on quick passes and Davis’ speed to propel the offense. While Davis averages nearly 35 yards per game, he has only gone over this 32.5 number 5 times. With ability to take a single reception over this yardage total, this prop is a dangerous one whichever side you select.
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