No. 15 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 7 Michigan State Spartans
Pasadena, California, Rose Bowl
Saturday, January 1st 4:30 PM EST ESPN
Laying the scene
The Game is being labeled as David vs. Goliath. But that is playing right into TCU's hands. It's more like Goliath vs. His underestimated little brother, we'll call him Bob. Wisconsin comes in with the respect and storied history. They are known for the old school bruiser type football. Their mentality is our guys are bigger and better than your guys, so let's settle this in the trenches. TCU has been scratching, crawling, and climbing out of the dark shadows of the bigger AQ schools, for years. It was a travesty to see Boise State and TCU last year, have to face each other in the bowl game, when they both wanted to face a top team from one of the Big 6 conferences. The Horned Frogs had to wait an extra year, but now they got what they wanted. TCU will try to combat the Badgers' size with speed and chemistry.
What TCU has to do to win
The Horned Frogs have to come out confident, unanimated and most importantly, they can't show any signs of rust. TCU's QB, Andy Dalton has to assume his leadership role from the start and be precise. He must have the offense working like clockwork and get out of the gates fast and not let TCU get behind big early. If they allow the Big Ten school to jump out to a 13-0 lead, seeds of doubt may creep in. DE, Wayne Daniels must help lead the TCU defense past the mammoth line of the Badgers. Daniels, along with the rest of the stellar TCU defense must manipulate angles to force pressure on Scott Tolzien, and slow down the beast of a running back in John Clay.
What Wisconsin has to do to win
Size does matter. Wisconsin's players need to go home with bruises and blood stained jerseys. That's Big Ten football and it's what the Badgers specialize in. They need to feed John Clay early and often and have him follow the giants up front and no one more than Gabe Carimi. At 6'7 327, Carimi is like running behind a moving wall that heads towards the end zone and flattens what's in his way. At 6'1 255 pounds, John Clay isn't easy to take down, even if you penetrate the wall in front of him. This team is capable of scoring a ton, but they don't have too. KISS - keep it simple stupid. It's an old cliché but clichés are around for a reason. Wisconsin needs to win the game and not worry about poking their chest out and getting into a shootout with the TCU offense. The Badgers are no slouches on defense either. TCU will be surprised by the physicality of this defense that is known for their size as much as their counterparts on offense.
This is the best matchup so far this bowl season and arguably the best game outside of the National Championships. The 2011 Rose Bowl will display what's great about the sport of football. It's not just the highlights, the battles, the hits, etc. It's the chess game that goes into games like this, where both teams are completely different. How will TCU's combat Wisconsin's size? How will the Badgers keep up to the speed of the Horned Frogs? Wisconsin will come out and slow the game down and pound the ball against the TCU defense. TCU will use the chip on their shoulder to motivate them and prove they can enforce their will on the Big Ten's Wisconsin team. TCU feels overlooked and slighted. They want this win but they want the credibility that comes with it more. It'll be like watching Magic's ShowTime Lakers against the fundamentals of the 2000's Pistons. TCU will have an argument for the National title after this one! - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com.
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