As much struggle as Michigan showed, rebounding from 18 points late in the third quarter to draw within a field goal, the Wolverines blew a bushel of chances — including their final fourth breath when the snap from the middle surprised McCarthy and the ball bounced off his knee and led to an insane mess of side punches with less than 30 seconds to play.
The Horned Frogs then had to endure an unsettling moment as officials checked the play for aim before deciding that no foul had taken place.
“It was a hell of a way to end a ball game,” Dykes said.
The Wolverines had spoken this week of being much better prepared this season than last, as they achieved both of their stated goals by winning the Big Ten and collapsing an eight-game losing streak against Ohio State. They were just happy to be a part of their playoff loss to Georgia a year ago, they admitted this week.
But from the start on Saturday they played as if their place here wasn’t a privilege but a burden. Michigan squandered a scoring chance in the end zone, squandered another when a trick play went awry, settled for two short field goals and gave up a touchdown when Bud Clark – who also recovered the fumble – picked up McCarthy and rushed for 41 yards for the first Score of the game, giving TCU a lead they never gave up even in the chaos.
The Horned Frogs, on the other hand, excelled when it counted.
The roots of their offensive execution, particularly near the goal-line, stem from disappointment at their only loss — against Kansas State in the Big 12 title game in early December.
When TCU was blocked inside the 1-yard line by back-to-back cracks in overtime, Dykes immediately promised to be better there if his team made the playoffs. Earlier this week, he said the Horned Frogs needed to be stronger up front but also need to be more creative.
“We put a lot of work into it and paid a lot of attention to it,” Dykes said a few days ago. “If you look at college football these days, the teams are so balanced that the game usually boils down to converting third downs and especially fourth downs and goal situations.”
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