The Wolverines are #22 in pass defense (191.8 yards allowed/game) and they rank #5 in yards allowed per attempt (5.8). They rank #4 in passing efficiency defense and have allowed just 9 touchdowns while making 12 interceptions. It’s a very good unit overall, even though Purdue’s Charlie Jones went off for 13 catches and 162 yards in the Big Ten Championship Game. Freshman Will Johnson has developed into Michigan’s best corner (25 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 INT, 2 PBU), but D.J. Turner II is probably an NFL draft pick, Gemon Green is a starting quality player, and slot corner Mike Sainristil has wowed everyone this season. On the back end, sophomore Rod Moore is tied for the team lead with 3 picks. The pass rush has been present but sometimes inconsistent, especially with leading sacker Mike Morris (21 tackles, 11 TFL, 7.5 sacks) missing the last couple games due to injury; he is reportedly back practicing with the team and healthy. Otherwise, pass rush specialist Eyabi Okie (4.5 sacks) and outside linebacker Jaylen Harrell (3.5 sacks) are the most consistent rushers.
TCU has an explosive passing offense. They’re #25 in passing yardage (273 yards/game) but #5 in passing efficiency and #9 in yards per attempt (8.8). Quarterback Max Duggan (6’2″, 210) has completed 64.9% of his throws for 3,321 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. He was not considered the starter to begin the season under new coach Sonny Dykes, but he took over the gig in week two and never looked back. Junior receiver Quentin Johnston (6’4″, 215) is the star with 53 catches for 903 yards and 5 touchdowns, but there are several capable targets with senior Taye Barber (5’10”, 190), senior Derius Davis (5’10”, 175), and junior Savion Williams (6’5″, 215) all having 29-35 catches and 4-5 touchdowns. Senior tight end Jared Wiley (6’7″, 255) has 21 catches for 225 yards and 4 scores. TCU is tied at #50 with 1.77 sacks given up per game. Dykes is a disciple of Hal Mumme and Mike Leach, so he runs an up-tempo Air Raid offense.
Advantage: Michigan. TCU will make plays through the air, but Michigan did a pretty good job of shutting down Ohio State’s high-flying passing attack. The X factor is Duggan’s ability to run. If the defensive line can’t keep him in check, then the threat of the quarterback run could open things up on the back end.