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T.C.U. Upends Michigan in Wild Playoff Semifinal

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As much fight as Michigan showed, rallying from 18 points late within the third quarter to attract inside a field goal, the Wolverines bungled a bushel filled with opportunities — including their last fourth-down gasp, when the snap from center caught McCarthy off guard and the ball bounced off his knee, resulting in a mad scramble of laterals with lower than 30 seconds to play.

The Horned Frogs then needed to survive a disquieting moment when officials reviewed the play for targeting before deciding that no foul had occurred.

“It was a hell of a technique to end a ballgame,” Dykes said.

The Wolverines had spoken this week of being significantly better prepared this season than last, once they met their two stated goals by winning the Big Ten and snapping an eight-game losing streak to Ohio State. Of their playoff loss to Georgia a 12 months ago, they were just joyful to be there, they acknowledged this week.

But from the beginning on Saturday, they played as if their place here was not a privilege but a burden. Michigan fumbled away one scoring likelihood ultimately zone, wasted one other when a trick play went kaput, settled for 2 short field goals, and surrendered a touchdown when Bud Clark — who also recovered the fumble — picked off McCarthy and bolted 41 yards for the sport’s initial rating, giving T.C.U. a lead it never relinquished even amid the chaos.

The Horned Frogs, against this, were superb when it mattered most.

The roots of their offensive execution, particularly near the goal line, were borne from the frustration of their only loss — to Kansas State within the Big 12 title game in early December.

When T.C.U. was stonewalled on back-to-back cracks from contained in the 1-yard line in additional time, Dykes immediately pledged to be higher there if his team got into the playoff. Earlier this week, he said the Horned Frogs would must be stronger up front, but in addition more creative.

“We’ve put quite a lot of work into, quite a lot of attention to it,” Dykes said several days ago. “While you take a look at college football today, teams are so evenly matched, typically what the sport comes all the way down to is having the ability to convert third downs and, especially, fourth downs and scoring situations.”

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