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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Zach Koons

J.J. McCarthy Explains What Powered Michigan’s Return to CFP

For the second year in a row, Michigan is preparing to play in the College Football Playoff. After last year resulted in a blowout loss to eventual champion Georgia in the national semifinal, Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy said he and his teammates would do whatever it takes to avoid the same result. 

Speaking ahead of No. 2 Michigan’s 2022 semifinal matchup against No. 3 TCU, McCarthy said he still remembers the “deep pit of regret” he felt in his stomach after the loss to Georgia last New Year’s Eve. That feeling has lingered with him and his returning teammates but is also what McCarthy credits as a major reason why the Wolverines were able to make their way back to the Playoff this winter.

“It was shared suffering for sure,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “It jump-started the whole offseason. We hit it really hard right away … we’re still riding that now.”

McCarthy explained that last season’s success, which included a win over Ohio State and a Big Ten championship, became the benchmark for the Wolverines when preparing for the 2022 campaign. Not only did Michigan want to reach that same mark again, but they wanted to surpass last year’s success by winning a playoff game.

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“We’re not just happy to be here, we want to get past it,” McCarthy said.

Michigan will have a chance to do exactly that this Saturday afternoon when it takes on TCU in The Fiesta Bowl. McCarthy, who’s been a steadying force for the Wolverines all season long, will be called upon to lead the program on a national stage once again as the school searches for its first College Football Playoff win ever. 

The Fiesta Bowl kicks off from State Farm Stadium in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Saturday, Dec. 31 at 4 p.m. ET.

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