By Jordan Lauterbach
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl- 18 TCU vs. Louisiana Tech- 8 p.m.
For a team that lost two games by a combined nine points and hasn’t lost since the first day of October, you would understand if TCU feels a bit disrespected. One would think that a two loss defending Rose Bowl champion who beat a top 5 team on the road in November would at least get to play after Christmas Day, if not on New Year’s Day. But alas, these were the unfortunate cards that Gary Patterson’s group were dealt.
TCU’s season started out with a dud when Robert Griffin III and Baylor put 50 on them on the first Friday night of the season. Ironically, this was probably one of the top five individual games of the year. The loss represented a change in identity for the Horned Frogs.
For years, TCU was the anti- Boise State- strong defense and just enough offense (if sometimes underrated) to win. This year, it was the offense that made the Horned Frogs fun to watch. Ranked in the top ten, TCU scored over 40 points a game. Quarterback Casey Pachall tossed 24 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He threw five touchdowns against Boise State on November 12, proving that he can play well in really big games.
It wasn’t a bad defensive year by any means, but it wasn’t up to the standards of past Paterson coached units. A 21 points allowed per game average was no doubt skewed by the 50 and 40 points given up to Baylor and SMU, respectively. After those two games, the defenses highest points allowed total came against Boise State (35), which isn’t something to hang their heads over considering the offensive power house that the Broncos are.
Louisiana Tech could pose two problems for TCU.
One, they’ve played every tough opponent on their schedule tough. The Bulldogs fell at Southern Mississippi 19-17, home against Houston 35-34, and at Mississippi State 26-20 in overtime. Of their four losses, only one (Hawaii, 44-26) can be considered bad.
Two, Louisiana Tech could be a lot more motivated to play in the game than TCU. This kind of bowl is where 8-4 teams usually find themselves, not 10-2 teams. A lapse in motivation early in the game combined with an opponent with a penchant to play up to “superior” opponents could cause major issues for the Horned Frogs early in the game.
Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron threw 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions in six games. That kind of ball security will be key in a game that is nothing but an uphill battle.
If they don’t let the game get away from them early, TCU has enough fire power and pure talent to battle through early struggles. But, if Patterson doesn’t prepare his players to be hit hard early, this could spin out of control
Question of the game: Can TCU weather any early Louisiana Tech surge and let pure talent find its way?
The Pick: TCU
Bowl Mania Record: 1-3