With his hands outstretched high, Tank Carder knocked down Steve Tolzien’s pass and the thought that TCU didn’t belong in a game with the “big boys.” That play, with just 2 minutes to go, gave the Horned Frogs the win over Wisconsin in the New Year’s day Rose Bowl 21-19.
As one of only 3 unbeaten college football teams in the country, many had said TCU wasn’t from a big conference, didn’t play the right schedule and didn’t deserve a shot at the national title. As a so-called “Non-Qualifier” for a January 1st bowl game, the Horned Frogs proved everyone wrong.
Carder said afterward about his play that he was just “in the right place at the right time.” He led the Frogs in tackles and garnered the defensive player of the game. He almost single handedly stopped Wisconsin on every big play.
TCU quarterback Andy Dalton won the offensive player of the game and led his team to his 42nd win in 4 years as a starting quarterback. After the game Dalton proved the class act he is by thanking Wisconsin for such a great game and quoting a verse from the Bible and 1st Peter.
Both teams moved the ball in the first half and made it look as though it could be an offensive shootout. With the score 14-13 at halftime, each knew adjustments would have to be made. And both made several, making the second half was a defensive story.
TCU won the coin toss but deferred and got the second half kickoff. They immediately rolled down the field and scored a TD, which proved to be the game winner. It put the Frogs up 21-13 and it stayed that way until Wisconsin finally got back to what they do best, run the ball. And senior John Clay led the way in his final performance.
Clay only rushed 11 times for 76 yards, and was almost an afterthought for the Badgers. That was because freshman Montee Ball came off the sidelines and wouldn’t go back. Ball rushed the ball 22 times for 132 yards and 1 TD and that kept Clay on the bench. The Badgers made their final push with just over 6 minutes left and ran the ball down the field with Clay leading the way on 3 strait huge runs, before Ball ran it in from the 4 with 2 minutes left to pull the Badgers within 2. It was then Carder performed his game clinching high jump.
TCU coach Gary Peterson admitted after the game he had received text messages from several small schools during the day, including Boise State and Nevada, imploring him to win. Peterson said he wanted to “win for TCU first, their fans second and the small schools third.” TCU did that and more.
The discussion will continue until next season as to how TCU would have done against Oregon or Auburn in a National Title tilt. This kind of discussion will only enhance the public outcry for a playoff system and disbanding the failed BCS system. This season, as many before it, have proven a playoff, even with only 8 teams, would give a true national title winner.
Until then, a champ is crowned under the current system. However TCU has proven this year the little kids on the block can play with the Big Boys.