Everything to know about the College Football Playoff semifinals


The College Football Playoff arrives on Saturday with a pair of semifinal matchups, and with them come plenty of storylines.

The defending champions from Georgia will be there, a team that hasn’t lost since last season’s SEC Championship Game and which has clear designs on repeating.

Two Big Ten powers will be there, too, one of them undefeated (13-0 Michigan) and the other (12-1 Ohio State) carrying only a lone defeat to its bitter rival.

Then of course there is the Cinderella of this final four, 12-1 TCU, which joins last season’s Michigan squad as the only teams to reach the CFP after starting the season unranked.

Here is everything to know about the College Football Playoff.


Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 TCU vs. No. 2 Michigan
Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
Odds: Michigan by 7.5 (per FOX Bet)

Peach Bowl: No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 1 Georgia
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
Odds: Georgia by 6.5


Who must be a star for Michigan to win?

The season-ending knee injury suffered by tailback Blake Corum opened the door for backup Donovan Edwards to justify the five-star rating he received as an in-state prospect from West Bloomfield High School. Edwards responded with the best game of his career against Ohio State by carrying 22 times for 216 yards and two scores, both of which were backbreaking, long-distance touchdowns that helped Michigan pull away from the Buckeyes.

A week later, in the Big Ten title game, Edwards carried 25 times for 185 yards and another touchdown to convince the coaching staff he can be the focal point of an offensive game plan. That he navigated both of those games with a cast protecting an injured right hand/wrist made the level of production even more impressive. Edwards was still sporting the cast when the Wolverines held their first open practice in Arizona earlier this week, but there’s no question he’ll play a featured role come Saturday. Michigan is expected to lean on its ground game against a TCU run defense ranked 65th nationally at 149.5 yards per game this season.

Who must be a star for TCU to win?

Few teams can match what TCU has accomplished with its downfield passing attack this season. Led by quarterback Max Duggan, the Horned Frogs have racked up 13 completions of at least 50 yards — a number that is tied with North Texas for second in the country and just one behind the national leaders from Tennessee. The primary target is wideout Quentin Johnston, a potential first-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft, and that’s who needs to dazzle if TCU wishes to advance to the national championship. 

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Johnston caught 53 passes for 903 yards and five touchdowns this season and spread his productivity across all parts of the field: 23.5% of his receptions were behind the line of scrimmage; 25.9% were nine yards or fewer; 24.7% fell in the medium range of 10 to 19 yards downfield and 25.9% were deep balls that traveled at least 20 yards in the air, according to Pro Football Focus. In total, Johnston caught nine of 22 deep passes thrown in his direction to gain 381 yards and all five of his touchdowns. Such downfield proficiency clashes with a Michigan defense that yielded just 12 passing plays of 30 yards or more this season and only one completion of 50 yards or more. The Horned Frogs need big plays to win.

What’s at stake for Michigan, TCU?

What's at stake for Michigan, TCU?

What is an X-factor in this game?

Given the number of blowouts Michigan authored this season, it’s difficult to identify any kind of consistent weakness for a team that is excellent in all three phases. But one potential worry for first-year defensive coordinator Jesse Minter might be the running ability of Duggan, who scrambled his way to 404 yards and six touchdowns en route to the CFP. Duggan ran for at least 50 yards in five of his team’s 13 games and topped 100 yards twice, including a 15-carry, 110-yard showing during an overtime loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game. His total of 21 missed tackles forced ranks 14th nationally and eighth in the Power 5 among quarterbacks, according to PFF. 

Duggan’s running ability is relevant because of Michigan’s modest struggles defending Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa in its narrowest Big Ten win of the season. Tagovailoa scrambled as much to buy time and find throwing lanes as he did for actual yardage and kept the Terrapins within striking distance until leaving with an injury in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines also had problems with Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford in the first half of an eventual blowout win. Clifford finished as the Nittany Lions’ leading rusher with six attempts for 74 yards. Reporters in attendance for Michigan’s open practice noted safety R.J. Moten going through drills with the linebackers. Perhaps Minter plans to deploy him as a quarterback spy.  

– Michael Cohen


Who must be a star for Georgia to win?

I’m going with cornerback Kelee Ringo. He’s the one tasked with covering Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who became a star this season after Jaxon Smith-Njigba went down in the opener. Harrison Jr. is 6-foot-4 and leads the Buckeyes with 72 catches for 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns; Ringo is 6-foot-2 and recorded two interceptions and six pass breakups this season. The battle between these two sophomores will be entertaining for one, and whoever wins will give his team a huge edge. 

Who must be a star for Ohio State to win?

Left tackle Paris Johnson moved from right guard to left tackle before this season and has been the anchor of an Ohio State offensive line that’s ranked third nationally in fewest tackles for loss allowed (44) and fifth in sacks allowed (eight). The 6-foot-6, 310-pound junior is a projected first-round draft pick but has not been tested by a pass rush like Georgia, which features another future top pick in defensive tackle Jalen Carter.

What is an X-Factor in this game?

Scheme and game within the game battles aside, I am most curious to see what kind of Ohio State shows up against Georgia. Will we see a wounded Buckeyes team that is still shaken after losing to Michigan in consecutive seasons, or will we see a tough and talented team that plays with an edge? If Ryan Day’s team is the latter, this could be a close game, and the toughest one the Bulldogs will have had all year.

– Laken Litman

Can the Buckeyes pull off the upset?

Can the Buckeyes pull off the upset?


Stay tuned for our breakdowns of each game from FOX Sports writers RJ Young, Michael Cohen, Laken Litman and Bryan Fischer.


  • Did you know that Jim Harbaugh has never beaten TCU (he was 0-2 as Stanford coach). Did you know that Georgia is 27-1 over the last two seasons? Our research team examines the history and the data, breaking down the semifinals by the numbers. READ MORE
  • What are the three keys for each team? RJ Young broke it down on the latest episode of his podcast, “The Number One College Football Show,” and he wrote a story to go with it. READ MORE
  • Michigan is in the running to land a most unique recruit, a player with NFL size and the speed of an Olympic sprinter. Michael Cohen has the story. READ MORE
  • It’s been a long and winding road for each of the four teams to reach the CFP. Bryan Fischer outlines how each team got here. READ MORE
  • The semifinals are loaded with great players. See how many of them made the FOX Sports All-America team. READ MORE
  • With Michigan and Ohio State both reaching the CFP, this could be the season the Big Ten asserts itself as the behemoth in the sport. Bryan Fischer explains why. READ MORE

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