By Dennis J. Freeman
TCU going up against Big Ten champ Wisconsin is not what a lot of West Coast football pundits would have preferred to watch in the Rose Bowl, but the matchup is intriguing and should be a good one to watch. The game itself comes down to TCU’s speed and quickness against Wisconsin’s size. More or less, it is the immovable object versus the irresistible force on New Year’s Day.
The two teams have made their way to Southern California and have begun participating in the annual ritual of nonstop daily press conferences and media blitzes of television cameras, microphones, IPhones and digital recorders. The onslaught of media coverage for the players on the two teams may catch them off guard a little bit, but game in itself will not. Both teams know what’s at stake on New Year’s Day: win the game and cement your place among the best in college football. Period.
Both teams have legitimate arguments why they should be playing on a national stage. The Rose Bowl gives both squads a chance to solidify BCS officials thinking in bringing the teams here in the first place. Sure, any team from the Big Tem is not particularly welcomed here in the land of the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins. But Wisconsin brings the total package of discipline, fundament football, a winning tradition and an 11-1 record into the game.
TCU, ranked No. 3 in the country, behind Oregon (No. 2) and Auburn (No. 1) has been almost the forgotten team in the BCS-coaches-public chess game. Like both Auburn and Oregon, TCU is undefeated on the season. But what has hurt TCU from getting a shot at playing in the national title game may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Horned Frogs. If they manage to defeat Wisconsin, a more reputable football program, TCU faithful hopes the “boys among men” syndrome will no longer apply to their team.
Statistically, TCU knows it can play with the big boys of college football, recording winning marks against both Big 12 and Pac-10 schools. Wisconsin is led by three running backs that accumulated nearly 3,000 rushing yards on the season. TCU’s defense has given up less than 100 yards per game. On the flip side, TCU is led by quarterback Andy Dalton, one of the best in the nation at that position. Among the teams TCU beat this season were Oregon St. and Utah.