The Michigan football team lost 51-45 to TCU on Saturday night, missing out on a chance to play in the national championship due to early blunders that the Wolverines made.
Zach Shaw of 247Sports provided his final opinions and his top four game-related learnings after the match.
With a long touchdown pass to Roman Wilson, Michigan felt it had reduced TCU’s first-half deficit to five points. However, a play later, a replay review that strangely determined Wilson was short of the goal line caused Michigan to fumble the ball away.
Early in the second quarter, Rob Moore of Michigan intercepted Max Duggan off a deflection as TCU led 14-3. After another play, JJ McCarthy connected with Wilson in the TCU secondary for what seemed to be a 49-yard touchdown.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Luke Schoonmaker laid a bone-crunching block, Donovan Edwards burst through the gaping hole and it all felt like déjà vu.
With a 54-yard rush, Edwards ignited the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, sending the sizeable group of Michigan supporters inside State Farm Stadium into an instant frenzy. And you were familiar with the plot by this point: Edwards scored big runs for Michigan against Ohio State and Purdue, guiding the team to the Big Ten title.
It has to happen again, right?
However, that run would turn out to be a mirage, the vision being wiped by college football’s newest feel-good tale amid purple confetti and the Hypnotoad. The Wolverines were left regretting their errors and regretting the day they lost the chance to compete for a national championship in the wake of what was arguably the zaniest College Football Playoff game in history.
Every loss is tragic by its sheer nature. But as the Wolverines left the field on Saturday, they did so not just with the agony of loss but also with the knowledge that, in all honesty, they were only one or two or a hundred or more “what-if” scenarios away from winning the match. That’s a difficult combo.
The disputed first-half touchdown by Roman Wilson, the possible targeting of Colston Loveland on fourth down at the end of the game, Blake Corum’s injury, or even the field surface that appeared to cause sloppiness among players from both teams and the officials were all outside of Michigan’s control.
But Michigan also suffered a lot of self-inflicted failures on Saturday, which it will think about for weeks or even years. Two pick-sixes, a goal-line fumble, missed tackles in coverage, dropped passes, pre-snap penalties, and a number of plays where a mental error ultimately proved to be more detrimental than other factors all contributed to Michigan’s defeat.
TCU merits full recognition for its ability to capitalize and for playing a more controlled, superior game. To claim that the Wolverines lost the game more than the Horned Frogs did, however, is not a limited viewpoint.
Considering the setting, the performance was breathtaking. Michigan has been hurt by losing to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals last season for the past calendar year. It expressed a willingness to make amends this week, and that process began with planning. Players insisted that they did not consider their trip to Arizona to be a vacation but rather a business trip. They excluded all outside influences and concentrated solely on the task and game preparation.
They had a year’s worth of evidence and a season’s worth of performance to back them up, so it was difficult not to accept them.
Whatever your perspective of the play, it ended up dominating a chaotic second half. The Horned Frogs secured the victory on yet another contentious call by the officials as TCU eventually prevailed 51-45, a margin that could have been increased by the lost touchdown.