2011 Rose Bowl Game: TCU-Wisconsin Matchup Big Test for Mid-Major Credibility

Matt WagnerCorrespondent IIJanuary 1, 2011

Photo is of 2004 Rose Bowl: USC versus Michigan
Photo is of 2004 Rose Bowl: USC versus Michigan

Ever since an undefeated Boise State squad knocked off a BCS ranked number eight Oklahoma Sooners team in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, many sports fans have been wondering if a mid-major program could eventually compete for a BCS National Championship.

Critics of this idea have mentioned for countless seasons that a mid-major football program could never participate in the BCS Championship in part because of a weak strength of schedule. 

The TCU Horned Frogs battle with the Wisconsin Badgers, a perennial Big Ten power, will prove if that argument has any substance. 

Andy Dalton and TCU will be facing off against John Clay and Wisconsin, a matchup which could have implications down the road if the Rose Bowl ultimately ends in a Horned Frogs victory. 

We all know that TCU has the offense, the only question is if the Horned Frogs defense can stall Wisconsin's power running game, led by one of the best running backs in college football in John Clay.

TCU has allowed 89 rushing yards per game but their best opponent this season was a then-ranked number 24 Oregon State team, a game which TCU won 30-21 and contained a top Pac-10 running back in Jacquizz Rodgers in the process as Rodgers only rushed for 75 yards in that matchup.

Today, the million dollar question is "Can TCU do it again and bottle up John Clay?" This will definitely be a matchup to watch throughout the 2011 Rose Bowl as it could have major ramifications if the TCU Horned Frogs are able to claim victory in the "grandaddy of them all."

Will a mid-major program eventually compete for a national championship? The Rose Bowl is the ultimate proving ground for TCU and just the possible ramifications down the road alone is enough to make the "grandaddy" the second most intriguing game this bowl season, second only to the BCS National Championship that pits Auburn against Oregon.