TCU says "Hello, BCS!" and beats Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl to finish season 13-0
Offense: It wasn't a great game by the TCU offense in this one, as while the Horned Frogs came out blazing in the first quarter and scored touchdowns on their first two drives, they only managed 7 points over the final 45 minutes. Still, the Frogs got as many points as they needed, and didn't turn the ball over, using field position to their advantage throughout the second half.
Andy Dalton was on fire out of the gate, but TCU then got a bit pass-happy in the second half and his performance fell off a bit. He did finish the game with 247 total yards and two touchdowns, running the offense efficiently enough to win the offensive MVP of the game. That being said, had TCU been a bit more productive with the ball late, it wouldn't have had to sweat so much at the end. Grade:B
Defense: His name is Tank Carder, and this game wasn't as much the Rose Bowl as it was the Tank Carder Show. Carder was everywhere on the field for the TCU defense. Knocking Scott Tolzien to the ground repeatedly, swallowing runners in the backfield, and knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage. If you didn't know Carder's name before this game, you do now.
The only problem for TCU was its interior run defense. While it was able to utilize its speed every time Wisconsin tried to stretch runs outside, the defensive line was getting manhandled up the middle quite a bit. Still, considering how impressive Wisconsin's offense was over the final month of the season, holding the Badgers to 19 points is nothing to be ashamed of. Grade: B+
Coaching: The only complaint I have about the job Gary Patterson and the TCU coaching staff did in this game was abandoning a game plan that was working so well at the start. Andy Dalton was having successful early throwing the ball and running out of the read option, but for some reason TCU ditched this attack after the first quarter. Instead Dalton just kept dropping back to pass, and things got a bit too predictable. Grade: B
Offense: Just looking at the statistics and not the scoreboard, you'd think Wisconsin won this game. The Badgers rushed for nearly five yards a carry, converted nearly half of its third downs, both of its fourth down attempts and didn't turn the ball over a single time. So what went wrong? Well, once the Badgers got to the red zone things seemed to stall and the team had to settle for field goal attempts, one of which they missed.
Which was a big miss given the final score.
The big problem on offense was that Wisconsin just wasn't very efficient throwing the ball. The Badgers have never been a passing team, but they've utilized play-action all season to pick up big chunks of yards and move the ball down the field. Tolzien couldn't do this against TCU on Saturday, and it cost Wisconsin points in the end. Grade:C+
Defense: Aside from the first quarter, Wisconsin's defense played pretty well. It's just Wisconsin had trouble getting off the field on third down, which lengthened TCU drives and took more gas out of the tank as the game wore on. The Badgers did a good job stopping the run and made life difficult for Dalton at times, but in the end, the Badgers defense had to make a play, and they simply didn't.
A turnover or two would have gone a long way in this game. Grade:B
Coaching: Why did Wisconsin lose this game despite the stats? Coaching decisions. Now, I loved Bret Bielema calling a fake punt deep in his own territory in the first half, but other than that, he left me scratching my head quite a bit. There was the questionable clock management at the end of the first half that forced Wisconsin to settle for a field goal, as it seems Bielema thought unused timeouts carried over to the second half. The biggest gaffe, however, came at the end of the game. On Wisconsin's final drive the Badgers ran the ball right down TCU's throat with John Clay and Montee Ball. After finally punching the ball into the end zone, the Badgers had to go for two, so what did Wisconsin do? They spread it out with four receivers and decided to throw. A Tank Carder fly swat later and TCU was Rose Bowl champions. Grade:F
The first quarter gave me the feeling that this was going to be an epic Rose Bowl, one that would go down in history. Things didn't quite play out that way, but it was still a very interesting game up until the last few minutes. It was a huge win for TCU, and one I thoroughly enjoyed watching. With or without the questionable decisions at the end. Grade: A-