Happy New Year from Hot Read Sports! Ringing in the New Year, Hot Read Sports took in the “Granddaddy of Them All” in Pasadena, CA. The 2011 Rose Bowl was billed as a “must see” matchup between the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs and the 1-loss Wisconsin Badgers. Though TCU was the favorite by Las Vegas oddsmakers, Wisconsin was considered the hottest team in college football entering bowl season. The matchup, a classic David vs. Goliath…speed vs. power…Non-AQ vs. BCS tilt was everything one would want to sit and watch on the first day of the year. Many analysts expected the pure size and strength of the Wisconsin team to wear down what many called an undersized TCU Horned Frog team. The analysts were merely scratching the surface of the numerous storylines that the Rose Bowl had to offer. How about the TCU Horned Frog defense playing to become the #1 overall ranked defense for 3 straight years? How about TCU QB Andy Dalton being the winningest active quarterback in Div. I football? How about the TCU offense which averaged over 40 points/game going up against an average Wisconsin defense? Those storylines were lost to the backpage, with the “Wisconsin size” taking the front page.
From the outset it was apparent that Wisconsin would exploit the TCU defense with their size and power. The first play the Badgers ran from scrimmage was the longest run play given up by the TCU defense all season. It’s going to be a long day, right? Wrong. The TCU defense made adjustments and started using their extreme speed and killer instinct to penetrate the backfield and slow down Wisconsin runners……making them work for every yard. TCU’s defensive philosophy is to cause chaos, play with leverage, mind their gaps, and hunt together. ”Hunting” is the perfect adjective to describe the way TCU’s defense plays. Watching the TCU defense play often reminds you of a pack of wolves trying to feed on a lone piece of meat, or in football terms, whoever has the ball. TCU head Coach Gary Patterson is a defensive genius and has utilized “afterthought” high school athletes to create a monster defense. It’s a Frankenstein-type defense….pieced together with high school running backs, quarterbacks, and athletes who may have never played defense. Patterson creates monsters. If you come to TCU thinking you will play running back, you could be in for a surprise when you reach your locker and find the jersey #98 hanging there. But, trust in Patterson, he will put you in the right place to excel and become the best football player possible. Continued……
As halftime approached you could tell that the TCU offense was clicking with smoke screens, qb draws, and play action passing. One of the top rushing teams in the country, TCU handed the ball off to a running back just once in the first half. But not to be outdone, the Wisconsin running game was a steamroller. TCU defense was employing a “bend but don’t break” mentality right up until the last second Wisconsin field goal entering halftime. Score 14-13 Frogs.
The second half was a tale of “heart”. TCU’s first drive out of the locker room was precise and time consuming. Resulting in a TD to put TCU up 21-13. Much like the first half both offenses found rhythm and clicked, but what was lurking was the TCU defense. The TCU defense started to pinpoint weaknesses in the Wisconsin front and took some risks with the blitz. After a 50 yard pass by Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien was broken up by TCU corner Greg McCoy…..a star was born. His name, Tank Carder. Carder, or as I like to call him…The Warrior (because he wears 6 armbands like the WWF wrestler “The Ultimate Warror”). Carder was active all game, but a blitz called on a third quarter third down created one of the most memorable sacks in Rose Bowl history (pictured above). This was the point in the game where TCU’s confidence went off the chart.
The game had taken a defensive turn. Both offenses moved the ball but drives stalled and the special teams play became a factor. TCU punter Anson Kelton (yes he weighs 280lbs) consistently put the ball inside the Wisconsin 20 yard line and the gunners did the rest, downing the ball inside the Wisconsin 10 yard line twice. Moving 90 yards on the TCU defense is almost an impossible feat.
Wisconsin held the ship together and late in the 4th quarter, with the score still 21-13, mounted one last power drive inside TCU territory. With just over 2 minutes to play in the game, Wisconsin ran the ball in to score a touchdown and set up a game tying 2 point conversion. Enter, Tank Carder! With the Wisconsin running game clicking on all cylinders the Wisconsin offensive coordinator mysteriously went to a spread formation to try and PASS on the 2 point conversion. A blitzing Tank Carder was picked up by the line and instead jumped to deflect the conversion attempt. Blocked!
The onside kick was unsuccessful and the TCU offense ran out the clock to seal the Horned Frogs first Rose Bowl victory and possibly a share of the national championship (its up to the AP voters).
So does TCU belong? Without a doubt. TCU has now entered the realm of the college football elite. A top 10 program over the last 3 years, a #1 ranked defense 4 of the last 10 years, an excellent coaching staff, brand new facilities, the Frogs heading to a automatic qualifying BCS conference (Big East) in 2012, and a resurgent fan base that has waited patiently for this resurrection. Now, imagine what Gary Patterson can do with a bump in recruiting talent. The sky is the limit! Get ready to see a whole lot more purple in January bowl games.