By Casey Keefe
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Rose Bowl: Wisconsin (11-1) vs. TCU (12-0)
– The Matchup:
This is truly a fascinating matchup between two very balanced teams that have destroyed virtually everybody who got in their way.
The Badgers were winners of the best conference in the country and really went on a tear over the final 3 games of the season, scoring a total of 201 points. Don’t be fooled by the ridiculous offensive numbers though – this team is even more about defense than they are offense. Their “old-school” style of football helped secure their first Rose Bowl berth in 11 years.
TCU on the other hand is still ticked about being passed over for the BCS title game – but hey, it’s just one of those years. They’re not going to kick an undefeated SEC or Pac 10 team to the curb for the likes of the Horned Frogs, that’s the bottom line. TCU is just as dangerous as any team in the country though. They have a balanced offense which puts up points in hurry and a nasty defense which really gets after opposing quarterbacks and feasts off turnovers.
One thing to watch – as is the case with all these BCS games – is how each team responds after the long layoff. Both these clubs have had virtually an entire month to rest up and prepare for this game. Game-planning wise it’s great, but crispness wise and momentum wise it can be a curse. The first 10 minutes of this game will be very telling.
– Players To Watch:
Wisconsin: RB James White (1,029 rush yards, 14 TD’s) & RB John Clay (936 rush yards, 13 TD’s)
TCU: QB Andy Dalton (2,638 pass yards, 26 TD’s, 6 INT’s) & RB Ed Wesley (1,065 rush yards, 11 TD’s)
– What Will Happen:
Both the Badgers and Horned Frogs are near-mirror images of each other on the stat sheet. The difference though is the competition level each has played. Wisconsin plays top competition on virtually a week-to-week basis. Other than Utah and Oregon State, TCU hasn’t really played that stiff of competition.
Andy Dalton will have his moments against the Badgers defense, as will Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker – But the Badgers defense is so relentless and so resilient that it’ll only be a matter of time before they enforce their will. They have one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country and are sure take advantage of any mistakes Dalton and company make.
The biggest question is if TCU’s defense can find a way to slow down Wisconsin’s offense. It all starts up front for the Badgers with what is – in my opinion – the best offensive line in the country. The hogs in the trenches are impossible to move and make it possible for any of three headed monster (John Clay, James White & Montee Ball) to break free at will.
I have a feeling the Horned Frogs will be burned over the top a few times by quarterback Scott Tolzien, who is smart, sharp and doesn’t make mistakes. His big play weapon is Lance Kendricks. This is where it gets dangerous for TCU – they can’t zone in too much on the run or else they’ll be caught on their heels by the deep ball.
It’s surprising to me that TCU is the Vegas favorite in this game. Wisconsin is a better team. They’re more experienced, more tested and more balanced. Head Coach Bret Bielema has done a hell of a job getting the Badgers back on the map, and I expect to see his hard work pay off with Gatorade shower as the final gun sounds in Pasadena.
Wisconsin 27 TCU 20
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