Wisconsin misses opportunities as Tank Carder leads TCU to win in Rose Bowl

Here are five quick-hit thoughts on TCU’s 21-19 win over Wisconsin in the 2011 Rose Bowl.

1. Tank Carder is an absolute beast.
TCU linebacker Tank Carder isn’t a household name but after his performance in the Rose Bowl, his effort will be talked about around the water cooler come Monday morning. Every time the Horned Frogs needed a big play, it seemed like the junior linebacker was the one to make it. He harassed Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien, he blew up running plays in the backfield and he came up with the play of the night when he batted down a Badgers’ 2-point conversion pass attempt with two minutes remaining in the game. Holding a 21-19 lead, the Frogs were able to recover an onsides kick and run out the rest of the clock to preserve the victory. With the way Wisconsin was able to run the ball in the first half, it appeared as though the Badgers would hammer out a win. But Carder was one of the main reasons Wisconsin’s offense struggled mightily in the second half.

2. The Badgers missed several golden opportunities.
Wisconsin’s offense missed way too many opportunities in this game. They missed a field goal late in the second quarter that proved to be the difference on the scoreboard. They ran the ball well all night, but they abandoned their power rushing attack in the second half until late in the fourth quarter. Considering they were gaining 82 yards a play on the ground, Paul Chryst probably should have run the ball on that crucial 2-point conversion at the end of the game. Nothing can be taken away from the Frogs, but it was a night of what-could-have been for Wisconsin (which was also penalized at crucial moments throughout the game).

3. TCU’s defense stiffens up on its side of the field.
For much of the first half, Wisconsin’s offensive line absolutely manhandled TCU’s quick, but smallish front seven. It seemed as if Montee Ball was going to break a long run every time he touched the ball and it was going to be a long night for the Frogs’ defense. But until the fourth quarter when John Clay got going, TCU did its best work when Wisconsin crossed midfield. In the first half, the Badgers had six trips into Frog territory but only scored 13 points. The Badgers had scored more than 70 points in two of their final three regular-season games, but TCU tightened up on Saturday. In the end, the Frogs made plays when they needed to and the Badgers didn’t. That proved to be the difference in the outcome.

4. Andy Dalton is impressive.
I don’t know if Dalton can make the jump from the college ranks to the pros, but I’ll be rooting for him when he does. This kid was flat out impressive in Pasadena. He has good size, above average arms strength (how many times did he hit a receiver on an out-pattern to the sidelines, which is the most difficult throw for a quarterback to make?) and his accuracy is solid as well. His timing was often perfect and although he could have been intercepted on a couple of his throws, he usually hit his receivers in stride. On one of his throws, he threw an out route that hit the wide receiver out of his break and on the outside of his shoulder. It was a picture-perfect throw. Because the Mountain West is never on TV, it’s a shame that college football fans haven’t gotten to see more of Dalton. But if you were watching on Saturday night, it was hard not to walk away impressed with his performance.

5. Does this prove that TCU can hang with the big boys?
When TCU had an opportunity to prove itself last year against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, its offense fizzed and the Frogs took a backseat to the Broncos for most of the 2010 season. Even though TCU was favored against Wisconsin, many people thought the Frogs would get steamrolled by a bigger Badgers team from a better conference. But while it certainly looked like the Frogs would get run over in the first half, they held their own and proved that they could, at the very least, hang with top competition. Can they beat Auburn? Maybe, maybe not. Can they beat Oregon? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, nobody can answer “no” to either of those questions with any conviction. And thanks to the lame ducks at the NCAA, we’ll never know how far TCU could go in a playoff.

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Rose Bowl Preview: TCU vs. Wisconsin

2011 BCS Bowl Previews: BCS National Championship | Fiesta Bowl | Rose Bowl | Orange Bowl | Sugar Bowl

Date: Saturday, January 1 2011
Time: 4:30PM ET
TV: ESPN

Why Watch: This will be the Badgers first trip to Pasadena in 11 seasons, while the Horned Frogs will become the first team from a non-AQ league in the BCS era to play in the Rose Bowl. Both teams scored 520 points this year, which was tied for the fourth most in the nation. This will be a classic strength vs. strength matchup, as TCU allowed an average of just 11.4 points, 126.3 passing yards and 215.4 total yards per game this year, which were all tops in the FBS. They also held opponents to 89.2 rushing yards per game, which was the third-fewest in the country. The Badgers, meanwhile, were tied for fourth with 43.3 points per game (the same as TCU) and employ a three-headed monster in running backs James White (1,061 yards), John Clay (952) and Montee Ball (881). Can TCU’s speedy defense matchup with Wisconsin’s big bodies on the offensive line?

Game Facts: Wisconsin has won its last three Rose Bowl appearances, while this will be TCU’s first-ever trip to Pasadena. The Badgers are 11-10 all-time in bowls and they’ll be making their ninth-straight bowl appearance. They beat Miami 20-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando last season. The Frogs are 11-14-1 all-time in bowls, but are 7-4 in bowl games under current head coach Gary Patterson. After winning their previous four bowl games, TCU was largely dominated by Boise State at last year’s Fiesta Bowl, even though the final score was, 17-10.

Key Player: Wayne Daniels, TCU.
Want to know if TCU can play with the big boys? We’ll learn a lot by watching Daniels try and get around 6-foot-7 beast of a man and Outland Trophy winner Gabe Carimi. Daniels was an All-American himself, and led TCU with 6.5 sacks this season. If Carimi is able to do to him what he’s been able to do to everyone else he’s gone up against this season (which is destroy them), then TCU might be in for a long day because that likely means Wisconsin won’t have trouble moving the ball. Daniels doesn’t necessarily have to win this battle, but he has to at least hold his own if TCU is going to win.

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2010 College Football Bowl Schedule & Matchups

CORVALLIS, OR - DECEMBER 04: Darron Thomas  of the Oregon Ducks looks to pass against the Oregon State Beavers during the 114th Civil War on December 4, 2010 at the Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Looking for a college football bowl game schedule? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let The Scores Report be your one-stop shopping experience for all things bowl game schedule.

BCS National Championship: Auburn vs. Oregon, January 10, 8:30PM ET
In the end, there really wasn’t any debate to which teams should play for the national title. The Tigers beat six teams this year that finished in the top 25 of the BCS standings and went 13-0 on the year. Their 56-17 pounding of South Carolina in the SEC championship game left no doubt about their spot atop the BCS rankings. On the other side, Oregon blew out Tennessee earlier in the year, but the Ducks’ made their best statement in a 52-31 thrashing of Stanford. They outscored opponents by nearly 31 points a game this year, with only one team (Cal) coming within single digits of Darron Thomas and Co.

Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs. Arkansas, Tuesday, January 4, 8:30PM ET
The Buckeyes have another shot to end their woes against the SEC when they take on the Hogs on January 4. If Terrelle Pryor plays as well against Arkansas as he did against Oregon in the Rose Bowl last year, then OSU will be fine. But the Buckeyes will certainly have their hands full with Ryan Mallett and the Hogs’ explosive offense. Arkansas has a chance to win 11 games in a season for the first time since 1977.

Orange Bowl: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech, January 3, 8:30PM ET
This is a great matchup but it’ll be overshadowed by the persisting rumors that Jim Harbaugh will be coaching elsewhere next season. Stanford’s defense will have its hands full with VA Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who took the ACC title game over against Florida State. But the Hokies will need more than Taylor to defeat a Stanford team that is arguably the best one-loss teams in the country. Andrew Luck can further cement his status as the No. 1 pick in April’s draft with a great performance.

Fiesta Bowl: Connecticut vs. Oklahoma, January 1, 8:30PM ET
The Huskies stumbled to a 3-4 record while losing their first two Big East conference games, but they rebounded to go 5-0 down the stretch and their reward is that they get to take on Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners will be heavy favorites against Connecticut but remember that Oklahoma is on a five-game BCS bowl losing streak that include three national title losses and a pair of Fiesta Bowls. Statue of Liberty, anyone?

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. TCU, January 1, 5:00PM ET
This may be the most underrated matchup of the five BCS bowl games. Wisconsin won its final seven regular-season games and did so by averaging 48.3 points per contest over that span. They also combined for 201 points in their final three games and now take on a TCU team that owns the top-ranked defense in the country. That’s impressive considering they lost Jerry Hughes and Daryl Washington (their top defenders from a season ago) to the NFL last April.

2010 College Football Bowl Schedule:

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