2011 Rose Bowl: Breaking Down Wisconsin vs. TCU
“The Granddaddy of ‘em All” kicks off for the 97th time on New Year’s Day. For the first time during the BCS era, the Rose Bowl features a team from a non automatic qualifying conference.
Wisconsin is looking to build off of Ohio State’s success last year and win a second consecutive Rose Bowl for the Big Ten—which is something that has not been done since Wisconsin won the 1999 and 2000 Rose Bowls.
TCU enters this game trying to win the first BCS bowl in their school’s history and finish their season undefeated. Although it may not be the BCS game that they were hoping for, the Horned Frogs will relish being on the national stage with an opportunity to play a premier program from the Big Ten.
Just So You Know…
Teams: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Texas Christian University Horned Frogs
Conference Matchup: Big Ten vs. Mountain West
Bowl: Rose Bowl Presented by Vizio
When: January first
TV: ESPN @ 5 pm EST
Venue: Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California
Payout: $17 Million
Spread: TCU -3
The Wisconsin Badgers were the Big Ten’s highest scoring team, which scored 70 points twice against Austin Peay and Northwestern, and 83 points against Indiana.
This offense is led by one of the best backfields in the country. The Badgers' rushing game has three feature backs, or as I like to call them, “the three headed monster.” John Clay, Montee Ball, and James White combined to rush for 2,894 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Although the rushing attack garners the headlines for Wisconsin, the play of quarterback Scott Tolzien cannot be forgotten.
The success running the ball opened up the field for Tolzien and he did not waste many opportunities. He threw for 2,300 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, which are both solid numbers. The stat that is very eye popping is his 74.3 percent completion percentage, which lead the nation.
TCU has the ability to put up big points as well. They scored 518 points on offense this season, which was good for eighth in the nation.
The TCU offense was lead by Andy Dalton, who had his best season during his four years as the starting quarterback of the Horned Frogs. He threw for 2,638 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. The man can run as well, which is evident by his 407 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns.
Dalton’s top targets are Josh Boyce with 602 receiving yards and 6 TDs, and Jeremy Kerley with 517 receiving yards and 10 TDs.
TCU has their own version of a three headed monster at running back as well. Although it is not nearly as big or productive as Wisconsin’s, Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker, and Waymon James still managed 2,248 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns.
Offensive Edge: Wisconsin
Wisconsin and TCU are two of the nation’s highest scoring offenses and top rushing attacks.
Since Wisconsin and TCU rank fourth and fifth in the nation in points per game, it is only fitting that these two will butt heads in Pasadena.
Wisconsin has the stereotypical Big Ten power rushing attack, whereas TCU relies on smaller, quicker tailbacks.
Andy Dalton is the nation’s active wins leader—41 victories during his career at TCU—has lead the Horned Frogs to two bowl victories and two BCS bowl appearances is clear evidence of his ability to win.
Ultimately, Wisconsin’s powerful rushing attack and the steady play of Tolzien gives them the edge over TCU’s offense.
You cannot talk about the Wisconsin defense without mentioning J.J. Watt. This guy is a beast and he showed that, terrorizing each offense he faced this season.
He had seven sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles, 59 tackles, and 21 tackles for loss. Oh yeah, and his 21 tackles for loss resulted in opposing offenses losing a total of 91 yards.
The rest of the Badger defense is not too shabby either. They were the third best defense in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Iowa, allowing opponents to score just over 20 points a game.
Watt should command a double team, which will give the rest of the Wisconsin defensive line to get a solid pass rush. Cornerback Antoni Fenelus had four of Wisconsin’s 14 interceptions this season. He and the rest of the Badger secondary will need to take advantage of the pass rush to have success against this TCU offense.
Sure, Andy Dalton and the TCU offense have scored a lot of points this season, but the Horned Frogs' defense received most of the headlines this season.
They lead the nation in points allowed per game (11.4), yards allowed per game (215.4), pass yards allowed per game (126.3), and is third in rushing yards allowed per game (89.2).
Speed is the name of the game when it comes to breaking down TCU’s defense.
It’s hard to pick out a defensive leader for TCU, but if you had to choose one, it would either be Tanner Brock or Tank Carder, who are both linebackers for the Horned Frogs.
Brock had two sacks, five and half tackles for loss, and led the team with 97 tackles. Carder had 54 tackles, two and a half sacks, and six and a half tackles for loss in a season in which he was also named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year
Defensive Edge: TCU
The Horned Frogs were the nation’s top defense this season, evidenced by the fact that they lead the nation in virtually every defensive category.
Wisconsin had a solid season defensively themselves, but nobody’s defense was better than TCU’s.
Although Wisconsin will try and use their size to their advantage in the rushing attack, Scott Tolzien will have his hands full trying to read TCU’s defensive schemes and find holes in their top ranked pass defense.
Special Teams: Wisconsin
Wisconsin enjoyed solid play from their punter, Brad Nortman with 42.8 yards per punt, and field goal kicker Philip Welch with 15-19 field goals made this season.
David Gilreath also played well for the Badgers, averaging 11.5 yards per punt return and 25.8 yards per kickoff while returning one for a touchdown.
They have allowed opposing teams to return two kickoffs for touchdowns and average 24.4 yards per kickoff. They also allowed one punt return for a touchdown and allowed opposing teams to average 12 yards per punt return.
Special Teams: TCU
The Horned Frogs also had solid play from all aspects of their special teams this season.
Field goal kicker Ross Evans converted 11 of 13 tries, and punter Anson Kelton averaged 42.2 yards per punt this season.
Their coverage teams allowed opposing teams to 7.2 yards per punt return and 20.5 yards per kick return, but have yet to allow a touchdown on special teams.
One of the nation’s best return men and the headline player for TCU’s return team this season was Jeremy Kerley. He averaged 12.9 yards per punt return and 28 yards per kickoff return.
Special Teams' Edge: TCU
TCU return man Jeremy Kerley and their special teams' coverage gives the Horned Frogs the advantage over Wisconsin when it comes to special teams.
Bret Bielema was anointed the head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers by none other than legendary Badger coach Barry Alvarez.
In his five seasons as the head coach, Bielema has a record of 49-15 in leading Wisconsin to five bowl berths. This season will be his first appearance in a BCS bowl.
He was the 2006 Big Ten Coach of the Year and has one Big Ten Championship during his tenure.
Gary Patterson has been one of the most successful college football coaches in the nation since he began his head coaching career at TCU in 2000.
He has a record of 97-28 and has lead TCU to the only two BCS bowl appearances in school history.
Patterson has many awards and conference championships during his head coaching career.
Coaching Edge: None
Both of these head coaches have been very successful during their tenures.
It is hard to choose which coach is better, therefore, this category is a wash.
San Jose State...W
@ Michigan State…L
Oregon State (@ Cowboys Stadium)…W
@ Colorado State…W
San Diego State…W
@ New Mexico…W
Schedule Edge: Wisconsin
TCU faced six teams that made bowl games…Record: 6-0
Wisconsin faced 5 teams that made bowl games…Record: 4-1
Ultimately, it comes down to Wisconsin playing in the Big Ten. Their conference schedule and level of competition each week was tougher than TCU’s.
They defeated the number one ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, as well as the 13th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium.
Their only loss came to Michigan State, who shared the Big Ten title with Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Wisconsin Will Win If…
They have a big game out of J.J. Watt. If he can keep the pressure on Andy Dalton and force him into some bad throws, the Wisconsin defense should be able to keep the TCU offense in check.
Wisconsin will also need their rushing attack to do what it does best: Pound the football. If Wisconsin can run the ball the way they want to, it will allow them to control the clock and make Scott Tolzien’s task of completing passes against this TCU pass defense a little easier.
TCU Will Win If…
The defense uses its speed to its advantage in beating the big Wisconsin lineman off the ball and get into the backfield to limit Wisconsin’s powerful rushing attack.
They will also need a big game out of their offensive line to keep J.J. Watt in check so that Andy Dalton will have enough time to find his receivers.
Not much to talk about here.
The only time these two teams have met was when TCU traveled to Camp Randall Stadium to play the Badgers, which ended in a 14-14 tie.
Wisconsin is playing in its seventh Rose Bowl, while TCU is playing in its first Rose Bowl.
And the Winner Is…
In a matchup of size and speed, the size should prevail.
TCU has once again crashed the BCS party. Although they will lose another hard fought game in a BCS bowl, they will prove that they can hang with the big boys.
Wisconsin has been regarded as a big team, especially compared to TCU, but that does not mean they are necessarily slow. Their powerful rushing attack should be all Scott Tolzien needs to manage the clock and keep the TCU defense honest with some solid passing.
Bold Prediction: WISCONSIN 31-TCU 24