The bowl series will now take a cross-country trip from St. Petersburg to San Diego, as we preview the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. The bowl with one of the longest names may be competitive for the shortest amount of time, but crazier upsets have happened.
Let’s take a closer look at this Wednesday’s matchup between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
More: See the other bowl games
No. 18 TCU (10-2, 7-0 MWC) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4, 6-1 WAC), Wednesday, Dec. 21, 8 p.m. [ESPN]
After losing quarterback Andy Dalton to the NFL in the offseason (who may be the NFL’s Rookie of the Year this season), TCU started the 2011 season looking a little rusty. The Horned Frogs lost their first game to Baylor 50-48 in one of the most exciting games of the year. After winning three straight, they lost yet again in their fifth game of the year, a 40-33 overtime defeat at the hands of SMU.
But TCU won the final seven games on their regular-season schedule, including a 36-35 victory over Boise State. They’ve come together as a team and they’re playing good football lately as the champions of the Mountain West Conference.
The Horned Frogs are doubling up their opponents, scoring an average of 42 points per game while allowing just 21. Only eight teams in the nation score more points per game than TCU, and the play of sophomore quarterback Casey Pachall (2,715 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 6 interceptions) is a big reason why the offense got back on track after losing the most successful quarterback in program history.
As for LT, the Bulldogs were one of the first teams to accept a bowl bid, taking their slot in the Poinsettia Bowl before Thanksgiving. They couldn’t have liked the opponent they were paired up against in this one, as they now have the unenviable task of slowing the TCU offense on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs aren’t the cleanest team on offense — as a matter of fact, they’re one of the most turnover-prone teams in the country. They rank third in the nation with 20 interceptions thrown, and if that trend continues, this game will become one-sided very quickly.
A field-position battle may be the best way for LT to go if they want to pull off the upset (TCU is favored by 10.5 points). Luckily, the Bulldogs have the best punter in the nation — Ray Guy Award winner Ryan Allen. In the regular season, Allen dropped 36 punts inside the 20-yard line. They’ll need more of that magic if they want to slow TCU’s offense.
Of course, if we’re hoping LT’s punter steps up in order to make this a ballgame, it probably won’t be a ballgame.
My prediction: TCU 41, LT 7