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TCU conquers Michigan 51-45 in wild Fiesta Bowl, advances to CFP title game

The Fiesta Bowl semifinal was an all-time classic and the underdog Horned Frogs ended up surviving.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone take a deep breathe. Y’all good? That Fiesta Bowl was a wild one, wasn’t it?

No. 3 TCU survived an off-the-rails College Football Playoff semifinal track meet against the No. 2 Michigan on Saturday, leaving State Farm Stadium with a 51-45 victory over the Wolverines. The Horned Frogs have now advanced to the College Football Playoff National Championship at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA, on January 9.

This ended being the second-highest scoring CFP game in history as both teams pulled out explosive play after explosive play throughout the afternoon. TCU, who entered the game as a 7.5-point underdog on DraftKings Sportsbook, stood toe-to-toe with the Big Ten Champs and will now vie for its first national title since 1938.

You can sift through all of the madness of the game from our live blog below:

Final: TCU 51, Michigan 45

Michigan had trouble getting off the final snap and this wild semifinal is over. TCU’s magical season continues and they have advanced to the College Football Playoff final. The Horned Frogs will play for their first national championship since 1938.

0:59 - Max Duggan’s pass to Quentin Johnston on 3rd and 4 comes up just a yard short and they will punt after Michigan called its final timeout. The Wolverines will get one final shot at this thing. Strap in.

1:47 - Facing 3rd and 1 deep into his own territory, Max Duggan takes a QB sneak and converts a critical third down for the Horned Frogs. The clock is on their side with just over a minute left.

TCU 51, Michigan 45

3:18 - Michigan is still alive. JJ MccCarthy orchestrated a nine-play, 56-yard drive and found Roman Wilson in the end zone for the touchdown to bring the Wolverines back to within a score.

TCU 51, Michigan 38

10:02 - Ok, all caps off for now. TCU was able to tack on a field goal to extend their lead back out a little bit. Let’s all breathe for a second.

TCU 48, Michigan 38


TCU 41, Michigan 38

14:13 - Helicopter touchdown! Roman Wilson gets spun into the end zone for the TD and Ronnie Bell ran the two-point conversion in to bring the Wolverines back to within a field goal. Whoever is reading this, buckle in.

Fourth Quarter

0:00 - And then TCU fumbles on the ensuing kickoff, allowing for Michigan to take over deep into Horned Frogs territory to begin the fourth. Unreal.

TCU 41, Michigan 30

0:03 - YO, WHAT IS THIS GAME MAN? These teams just keep trading bombs. McCarthy fired a deep pass off to Ronnie Bell and after initially being ruled a touchdown, it was overturned and came back to the two-yard line. Donovan Edward promptly punched it in for the touchdown on the following play and McCarthy converted the two-point conversion. An unbelievable final five minutes of the third quarter.

TCU 41, Michigan 22

0:49 - Alright, this is starting to go off the rails. Emari Demercado has stepped up big in place of an injured Kendre Miller and broke off a 69-yard run to put the Horned Frogs on the one. Max Duggan then executed the old QB sneak for a touchdown to push their lead back out further. This is the exact pace of play that TCU was looking for.

TCU 34, Michigan 22

1:47 - It took the Wolverines less than a minute to respond as JJ McCarthy took it himself to break off a 20-yard touchdown run. The two-point attempt was no good.

TCU 34, Michigan 16

2:52 - We have another TCU pick-six. Dee Winters housed an interception for a touchdown to extend the Horned Frogs’ lead even further. TCU failed to convert the extra point attempt but they are firmly in control as the third quarter winds down.

TCU 28, Michigan 16

4:25 - That Michigan touchdown didn’t phase TCU at all. Sparked by a big Quentin Johnson reception, the Horned Frogs hauled it right down the field and capped the quick drive with an Emari Demercado touchdown to extend their lead.

TCU 21, Michigan 16

6:32 - Michigan finally found the end zone. The Wolverines executed a flea flicker with JJ McCarthy hitting Ronnie Bell for a 34-yard touchdown. We have ourselves a ballgame again.

7:44 - On 3rd and 10, Max Duggan’s intended pass to Derius Davis bounced off the receiver’s and into the arms of Michigan’s Mike Sainristil for the interception. We’ll see if the Wolverines can capitalize on this giveaway.

TCU 21, Michigan 9

9:29 - Michigan once again gets deep into the red zone and once again has to settle for a field goal. They’re still down by two scores by the way. Why do coaches do this.

13:55 - TCU picked up a first down on the opening drive of the second half and that was all it could get as it was forced to punt. We’ll see if Michigan get get something going.

Third Quarter

Halftime score: TCU 21, Michigan 6

0:00 - A pass interference call allowed Michigan to get one more crack at points before the half and Jake Moody booted a school-record 59-yard field goal to cut into the deficit before the half.

TCU 21, Michigan 3

4:56 - After both teams traded punts, TCU went on a 10-play, 83-yard drive that ended with Max Duggan being flushed out the pocket but finding Taye Barber for the touchdown. The Horned Frogs are doing a great job extending these drives as they’re 4-6 on third downs.

13:08 - This game is suddenly getting weird. On the one, Michigan running back Kalel Mullings fumbled the handoff from McCarthy and Bud Clark recovered it in the end zone for a touchback. Rough break for the Wolverines.

13:28 - The momentum of this game has suddenly shifted. Immediately following the pick, JJ McCarthy went play action and hit Roman Wilson on a 50-yard pass. It was originally ruled a touchdown but after review, it was determined that Wilson was down at the one. This ruling will be the primary topic of discussion if Michigan loses.

13:35 - Max Duggan’s pass on the first play of their next drive got deflected and picked of fby Rod Moore. We’ll see how the Wolverines take advantage.

TCU 14, Michigan 3

13:46 - Michigan’s drive stalled in Horned Frogs territory and Jake Moody booted a 42-yard field goal to put them on the board.

2nd Quarter

TCU 14, Michigan 0

2:27 - After forcing a punt, Max Duggan drove the Horned Frogs downfield on a 12-play, 76-yard drive and capped it with a one-yard QB scamper to put them up by two scores. TCU couldn’t have scripted a better start to this contest.

TCU 7, Michigan 0

9:22 - We have our first points of the game. Bud Clark picked off JJ McCarty and housed it for a pick six to put the Horned Frogs up 7-0 early. Clark did a great job jumping the pass intended for Ronnie Bell to take it the other way for six.

10:30 - JJ McCarthy scrambled out of danger on third down and got the Wolverines down to the two. Going for it on 4th and 2, Michigan tried the Philly Special to no success. It may be time for teams to retire that play.

15:00 - On the first play of the game, Michigan running back Donovan Edwards broke off a 54-yard run to immediately get the Wolverines into TCU territory.

First Quarter

TCU won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Michigan will start the semifinal with the ball. Game on.