TCU's win over Wisconsin was one that finally gave them the signature win in a BCS Bowl game that they sorely missed. All of the non-BCS love nationally has deservedly so gone to Boise State and Utah since they were the only two to have won BCS games. TCU was always respected but never had that BCS win to boast, well let me rephrase that, most of the people not on the ESPN BCS Countdown show gave TCU credit and praised them. I clearly remember the show after Boise State lost to Nevada that people were saying how they were moving up TCU right alongside Boise State, and their reasoning was 'just because.' People like Craig James, Jesse Palmer and even Kirk Herbrstreit how was giving Boise State love all year suddenly turned against TCU; all of this was because Boise State lost. Here are the words from Jesse Palmer talking about TCU's chances on College Football Live:
I do not think TCU should be next up if either Oregon or Auburn lose this weekend, no non-AQ school has gone on to play in a BCS national title game. If TCU is given that opportunity then we have set the standard for what non-AQ's have to accomplish in order to get there. ... Lets take a look at TCU's resume here, their best win against an AQ team is Oregon State and Oregon State needs a win in the Civil War to become bowl eligible. TCU's best win period is against 20th ranked Utah and twice this year against non-AQ schools TCU has looked beatable against SMU and San Diego State. In my opinion TCU has not looked good enough and has not done enough to get to the opportunity should either Oregon or Auburn lose. In my opinion Wisconsin or Stanford are two one loss teams to deserve a chance if one of the top two teams fall.
TCU showed all of those people, and while I have yet to scour the web for an outside perspective, but I am thinking that -- and I could be way off on this -- the majority will not come out like they did when Utah and Boise State won their games and saying that the opponent did not want to be there. There maybe some that say it was only one game and lets see how TCU holds up with a Big 10 schedule. I am not going to get into the schedule argument because its really a fruitless argument and the two schedules are not that far apart.
Back to the game itself, Wisconsin who rarely commits penalties had a season high six for 41 yards which did stall their momentum at times, but also dropped passes by Wisconsin wide receivers. They did not have many drops, but they did have a few key drops that could have gone for big plays. TCU did a good job against the pass, but it is still baffling to me as well as SB Nation's Wisconsin site Bucky's 5th Quarter to why the Badgers did not run the ball up the middle more often. On Wisconsin's first play of the game they ran for 40 yards and it seemed every time they ran the ball they were getting a first down or were very close. Wisconsin has three high caliber backs who combined for over 3,000 on the year, and after that first run it seemed that Wisconsin would have their way running the ball. TCU had no answer when Wisconsin ran up the gut, and only a handful of times TCU was able to stop a run up the middle. When Wisconsin went wide or tried lone developing running plays TCU was able to stop those on a regular basis. Wisconsin racked up 242 yards on the ground at an average of 5.72 per carry (this excludes quarterback Scott Tolzien's yards). This all makes that two-point pass play even more strange.
Before that play happened, the game itself looked to be a high scoring game as both teams are accustomed to having. The first quarter set a Rose Bowl record of 24 points and a shoot out looked to be on at the Rose Bowl. After the TCU touchdown to make the game 14-10 with 36 seconds left in the first quarter the next points were a field goal by Wisconsin as the second quarter expired. The game -- at least to me -- never seemed that either side would blow each other out as the defenses clamped down. Actually, the only time I felt that Wisconsin would eventually win this game was on their final drive of the second quarter were they were successful on a fake punt on their own 33 yard line. On that same drive Wisconsin moved down the field for a field goal at ease.
TCU's answer to start the third quarter brought tension back to the game since Andy Dalton lead the offense down the field on a six-play 71 yard touchdown drive. After that score with just under 13 minutes left in the third quarter the defenses clamped down and neither team was able to move the ball, and that was the only score until Wisconsin's last drive at the end of the game.
For some reason during this game Wisconsin decided to rarely use Doak Walker Award semi-finalist John Clay until the final drive. He was not necessarily needed since Monte Ball ended up with 132 yards, but Clay was finally used on the final drive to set up the final score. Wisconsin tried to out smart themselves and went away from their size advantage on the offensive line by passing the ball 21 times and running sweeps, outside runs or long developing running plays. Quarterback Scott Tolzien completed only 12 of those 21 attempts and managed only 159 yards by going to the passing game that allowed TCU to be on a more even playing field with the secondary guarding the receivers.
The 21 passes were the sixth most all season and was actually less attempts then the last three games when Wisconsin scored a combined 201 points. Tolzien's passing yards was his second worst all season and was only behind their other loss on the year against Michigan State. In that lost to Michigan State, Tolzien threw for 27 yards. I assume Wisconsin was trying to get TCU to bite on the play action but that rarely worked, and the purpose of play action to beat the defender deep but that only worked once as Tolzien's longest pass was a 27 yard pass in the first quarter.
The last drive of the game for Wisconsin was a solid 10 play 77 yard drive lead by running back John Clay who rushed for 59 yards on six carries. When it came for the two-point attempt Clay was not on the field and quarterback Scott Tolzien was in a shotgun formation. That alignment was the most shocking thing in the game, as most TCU fans assumed Wisconsin would come in with two running backs and two tight ends to run up the gut. Instead, the shotgun formation was there and a pass was coming. The play was open for Wisconsin because of a coverage error on TCU's secondary, but linebacker Tank Carder who was to blitz was caught up at the line of scrimmage stayed in coverage and swatted down the attempt. Had Carder miss Wisconsin would have tied the game and possibly sent it to overtime.