Sports‎ > ‎Football‎ > ‎

Frogs Reign in Pasadena

TCU linebacker Tank Carder sacks Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien in the fourth quarter of the Horned Frogs' victory.

PASADENA, Calif. – Texas Christian University has only about 8,000 students, no previous Rose Bowl appearances and fans who sport a hand symbol that's supposed to evoke a frog.

But these supposed smaller-conference Davids did another stellar Goliath impression Saturday in this year's first Bowl Championship Series game. No. 3 TCU of the Mountain West became the first non-automatic qualifier to play in a Rose Bowl, and the first to win it by out-classing and out-lasting fourth-ranked Wisconsin 21-19. Never mind the Badgers' linemen who weigh as much as grizzly bears or a corps of locomotives disguised as running backs – not to mention their Big Ten credentials.
It's hard for me to believe we even got an opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl, let alone say we're Rose Bowl champs," said TCU head coach Gary Patterson, who left the field doused in Gatorade despite warning his players not to get him wet – at least not before the clock ran out. His team finished the 2010 season perfect in 13 games.

After floundering offensively for much of the second half, the Badgers (11-2) were poised to tie with two minutes left as a stadium dressed predominantly in Wisconsin red cheered them on. The Badgers bulldozed 77 yards in 10 quick plays on the way to a Montee Ball touchdown that narrowed TCU's lead to two points.

But after seeing their running game rejuvenated on the drive, the Badgers opted for a pass. The ball barely got out of quarterback Scott Tolzien's hand before it was knocked to the ground by TCU linebacker Tank Carder, the Mountain West defensive player of the year. TCU then grabbed Wisconsin's onside kick and ran out the clock.

"I thought we had a guy open," Mr. Tolzien said. "They batted the ball down and that's what good football teams do."

Mr. Carder said it took a while for him to even register the impressive play he'd made: "It didn't 
That late failure wasn't the only one of the game for Wisconsin. The Badgers also suffered from a missed 39-yard field goal by Philip Welch in the second quarter and clock mismanagement issues throughout. They burned two key timeouts earlier in the second half that they missed dearly at game's end.

"It was probably an accumulation of 10 to 12 plays that we failed to execute, and they did," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said.

The first half was a rat-a-tat tug-of-war, highlighted by Wisconsin's gutsy call on fourth-and-nine from its own 33-yard line. Punter Brad Nortman ran 11 yards for a first down, and the Badgers soon after pulled within a point of the Horned Frogs. But even though Wisconsin owned the ball for more than 21 of 30 first-half minutes, the Badgers entered halftime down 14-13. TCU's all-everything quarterback Andy Dalton was the difference early, connecting with Bart Johnson for a 23-yard score and running for his own 4-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

As fast as the points piled up at the start, in retrospect it's surprising that when fullback Luke Shivers scored from one yard on his only carry of the game just over three minutes into the second half, the Horned Frogs would have all they needed. Both defenses adjusted and neither team scored again until Wisconsin's big drive in the last few minutes.

Mr. Dalton finished 15-for-23 for 219 yards, winning the game's offensive MVP award. Those numbers may not belong in any record books, but they did allow him to follow through on his stated goal of winning a big game for all of college football's little guys.

"It's a dream come true," said Mr. Dalton. "I think we showed that these teams can play with anybody."