San Diego Country Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Game Preview

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TCU made back-to-back trips to BCS bowl games in 2009 and 2010, but fell a little short this season.  In 2009 the Horned Frogs lost to Boise State 10-17 in the Fiesta Bowl and last year defeated Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl.

This campaign, TCU ended the regular season ranked 16th by the AP but were 18th in BCS Standings, two spots away from receiving a BCS bid for winning the MWC. Being in a non-automatic qualifier conference meant that TCU would have to finish ahead of a AQ Conference champion and at least 16th in the BCS Standings. The Horned Frogs finished ahead of Big East winner West Virginia, but couldn’t muster up enough votes in the standings. This is the last year TCU will compete in the Mountain West as it moves to the Big 12 next season.

The defense is led by LB Tank Carder, the MWC Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Carder has 66 tackles with two interceptions, both returned for touchdowns and DE Stansly Maponga has 8.5 sacks, tied for 17th most in the nation. The Frogs are well off 2010’s pace when they led the FBS in total defense at 228.5 yards per game and scoring defense at 12.0 points, but are still a capable unit holding opponents to 346.3 yards per contest, 32nd best in the nation and an average of 21.3 points, 30th in the FBS.

Offensively, Sophomore QB Casey Pachall has thrown for 2715 yards, 24 TDs and only six picks and has a completion percentage of 67.8%. RBs Waymon James (824 yards, 6 TDs), Matthew Tucker (684 yards, 11 TDs), and Ed Wesley (649 yards, 5 TDs) also helped the Horned Frogs average an FBS ninth-best 41.7 points per game. TCU will be without Co-Offensive Coordinator Justin Fuente after he was named Memphis head coach on December 7th. Co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Jarrett Anderson will likely handle Fuente’s duties.

WAC Champions Louisiana Tech will be making their sixth bowl appearance, and first since 2008 when they defeated Northern Illinois in the Independence Bowl 77-10. The Bulldogs started the season 1-4, but won seven straight games on route to their first conference title since 2001. Louisiana Tech is averaging 30.6 points per game, 40th in the FBS, and 397.5 yards per game, 48th in the country. Redshirt junior QB Colby Cameron took over for injured freshman Nick Isham, with his first start coming against San Jose State.

Since then, Louisiana Tech is scoring 34.8 points per contest with 445.6 yards per game. In the six games he has played Cameron has thrown for 1,403 yards with 11 TDs and 2 INTs, and will look for the first-team all-WAC wide receiver Quinton Patton (1,135 yards, 10 TDs) to help with the upset. WAC defensive player of the year Adrien Cole leads the Bulldogs with 121 tackles, including a team-best 12 for loss, while Christian Lacey is tied with Maponga with 8.5 sacks. Louisiana Tech is third in the nation with 20 interceptions and the defense is allowing opponents an average of 22.5 ppg, 34th best in the FBS.

Dory LeBlanc, covers Gator sports for Gators First and Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc