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When third-ranked TCU plays second-ranked Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship will be on the line. Both teams finished the regular season undefeated and it is set to be a dogfight.
However, Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes thinks he knows how to stop the Wolverines.
During a recent appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, the first-year head coach who left SMU for TCU during the offseason broke down his game plan. He wants to make Jim Harbaugh’s side throws the ball.
Michigan had the fifth-ranked rushing offense in the country and averaged 243 yards per game on the ground. On the flip side, it had the 93rd-ranked passing offense in the country.
Thus, on paper, the path to victory for TCU seems simple— stop the run.
“Seems” is the key word. Not only is stopping the Wolverines’ rushing attack extremely hard to do, recent history would show that it may not work as well as TCU might hope.
Ohio State had the same game plan against Michigan— stop the run. The Buckeyes stacked the box defensively, played tight coverage, and often pushed up its safeties in effort to stop running back Donovan Edwards from having a day.
It was unsuccessful. Edwards ran the ball 22 times for 216 yards and two scores.
But that isn’t even the focal point. While Ohio State keyed on the run, Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy was free to throw the ball with limited coverage down field. He dropped 263 yards and three touchdowns on his rivals.
By putting so much emphasis on the run game, as Dykes plans to do, the Buckeyes were exposed over top.
It happened more than once and it was a large reason that the Wolverines went on to win 45-23.
Considering that Dykes is coaching a 12-1 team in the College Football Playoff, he knows what he is doing. But with that being said, McCarthy has already proved that forcing him to win the game is a bad idea, because he has and he will.