Now that’s how you ring in a new year! The TCU Horned Frogs are Fiesta Bowl Champions and have advanced to the National Championship Game with an exhilarating 51-45 victory over the Michigan Wolverines.
TCU was a big underdog heading into the game, with betting odds, analytical models, and almost every single national media expert projecting a romping victory for the boys in maize and blue. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the game is not played in spreadsheets or recruiting rankings; the measure of a team is not the size of its stadium, but the size of its heart and will to win.
It was a back-and-forth affair in State Farm Stadium on New Year’s Eve in Glendale, Arizona, but the game was never closer than the 0-0 score when the Wolverines received the opening kickoff. Just as Monte Ball opened Wisconsin’s 2011 Rose Bowl vs. TCU with a 40 yard run - ultimately only resulting in a FG - Donovan Edwards opened the 2022 Fiesta Bowl with big play. He took his first carry for 54 yards, being chased down from behind by TCU’s Bud Clark. The promising start to the drive ultimately came to nothing for Michigan as the Wolverines tried some goal line trickeration on 4th down and the Frogs shut that down. Sometimes the best offense is great defense, as the Horned Frogs returned two J.J. McCarthy interceptions for TDs, including the opening score of the game, as Bud Clark showed that speed that Michigan was so unconcerned with headed into the game. Clark read the play, stepping in front of Ronnie Bell and taking it to the house for the first points of the contest
Dee Winters also brought home a pick six, in the 3rd quarter to give the Frogs a 34-16 lead. Michigan’s defense entered the game allowing 13.38 points per game, good for 3rd in the country. The Horned Frogs nearly quadrupled that figure. The talk all month leading up to game day was how TCU would not be able to score against he elite Michigan defense and would not be able to contain the Wolverine run game or hassle QB J.J. McCarthy. TCU accumulated 488 total yards, 263 on the ground, despite starting RB Kendre Miller missing most of the 2nd half with an injury. Big time players make big time plays, and Quentin Johnston is a superstar player making superstar plays. His 4th Quarter catch and run for a 76-yard TD was the game-winning play, putting the Frogs up 48-38.
Johnston earned Fiesta Bowl MVP honors, cooking Michigan for 6 receptions for 163 yards and that key touchdown. In the end, TCU won the battle of wills up front, bullying its way to 263 rush yards while holding the Wolverines ballyhooed rushing attack to 186 yards. While it wasn’t a perfect game for the Frogs, with 3 turnovers and 7 penalties, TCU was able to do what it has done almost all season: find a way to win at the end. There will be much more to say about this game, as it will live forever in TCU lore; and there will be much to say about the Horned Frogs matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs in the National Championship. But for now, Frog fans everywhere celebrate the start of 2023 as the Horned Frogs take home the victory in the Fiesta Bowl and advance to the National Championship. What a time, enjoy every magic moment