Friday, August 26, 2011

The Top Moment (so far) of the Patterson Era

After scaling the BCS mountain in 2009, the TCU football program and its fans realized that simply crashing the party wasn't nearly satisfying enough when their last-minute drive to win the Fiesta Bowl fell short. They rolled straight through their 2010 regular season schedule (minus a close-call against San Diego State) to finish 12-0 once again. This time, though, the BCS wasn't able to shove them aside to sit at the kid's table: they were sent to Pasadena to take on Big Ten champ Wisconsin in the Grandaddy of them all: the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2011.

A great deal of Frog fans got to spend New Year's Eve out in Los Angeles. I, on the other hand, flew out there the morning of the game. Either way, we all got to experience the friendly nature of the trim & tan Wisconsin fans before the game. Seriously, I've never seen so many arrogant fat people in my life...although it should be noted that I didn't grow up in Houston.

Once the Badger fans chanted halfway through the national anthem and the game finally began, the first play caused many of the purple-clad in attendance and watching on TV to have their life pass before their eyes when Montee Ball reeled off a 40-yard gain down to the TCU 28 yard line. After five more rushing attempts netted the Badgers 18 additional yards, Scott Tolzein was unable to connect with Nick Toon on a 3rd & 8 pass attempt and Wisconsin settled for a field goal to claim the lead, 3-0.

Then Andy Dalton went to work, accounting for every yard in a 10-play, 72-yard drive that drained 4:16 off the clock. He ran the ball 4 times for 19 yards, including an 11-yard scamper the gain the drive's initial first down. He was also 4-for-7 passing, including 3 completions to Jimmy Young. On 2nd & 7 from the Wisconsin 23, he sold an amazing pump fake to unlikely decoy Jeremy Kerley and found Bart Johnson open in the endzone to give the Frogs a 7-3 lead.

Whereas the Badgers had moved the ball mostly on the ground during their first drive, they went to the air the second time around. With the help of Tolzein connecting on all three of his pass attempts for 58 yards- including a 28-yarder to fullback Bradie Ewing to set up a 1-yard plunge by John Clay- the Badgers used just 2:56 to drive the ball 67 yards and retake the lead, 10-7.

Jeremy Kerley then returned Wisconsin's kickoff all the way out to the 43, giving the Frogs a short field with which to work. On the second play of the drive, Dalton again worked his pump-fake magic and found redshirt freshman Josh Boyce deep for a 44-yard gain all the way down to the Badger 12 yard line. From there, it was all Dalton- a 1 yard gain on a keeper, followed by a 7 yard run and then the 4 yarder into the endzone. The play was reviewed, but eventually ruled a touchdown. 14-10, good guys.

The Badgers, looking to re-take the lead, returned to the ground game on their next possession. They were able to move the ball 55 yards in 13 plays, eating up 6:58 off the clock, helped greatly by Montee Ball's 39 rushing yards on just 5 carries. They got the ball all the way down to the Horned Frog 22 yard line, where they lined up on 4th & 3 for a 39-yard field goal attempt that would've brought them to within 1...but Phillip Welch missed (barely) wide left. The three missed points seemed like a big deal at the time, and would feel a LOT bigger later on...

Looking to protect their 4-point lead, the Frogs got the ball back with 8:34 remaining in the quarter, but after a quick three & out they punted the ball back to Wisconsin with 7:04 left...and they wouldn't see the ball again for the rest of the half. They appeared to have the Badgers stopped on a three & out of their own, but an 11-yard gain on a 4th & 9 fake punt run by Brad Nortman gave the Wisconsin drive new life. Tolzein went 4-for-4 passing after that, and drove the Badgers to the TCU 21 where Welch made a 37 yard field goal as time expired to pull Wisconsin to within 14-13 at halftime.

The Frogs began the second half with the ball at their own 24, and drove into Wisconsin territory on a 33-yard pass from Dalton to Ed Wesley in which #34 bounced off two would-be tacklers and raced down to the Badger 25. A 12 yard completion to Jimmy Young and a 12 yard run by Matthew Tucker set up Luke Shivers' 1 yard touchdown run that concluded the Frogs' scoring for the game and extended their lead to 21-13.

From there, it was on the Horned Frog defense to hold the much-ballyhooed Wisconsin offense at bay and protect the 8-point lead. The Badgers' first possession of the second half began at their own 5, and a healthy dose of Montee Ball runs and Tolzein-to-Toon passes got them to the outer edges of field goal range. Then on 3rd & 6 from the TCU 37, Tank Carder burst through the line on a delayed blitz and absolutely smothered Tolzein. The sack cost the Badgers 8 yards and forced them to punt. The Frogs were then able to take 4:30 off the clock before Anson Kelton's punt was downed at the Wisconsin 3 yard line- where their last possession of the 3rd quarter resulted in a quick three & out. End of 3: TCU 21, Wisconsin 13.

TCU's first two turns with the ball in the 4th quarter took up a combined 5:19, and were sandwiched around a failed 6 play, 10 yard drive by Wisconsin that took up 2:29. So when the Badgers got the ball back at their own 23 with 7:32 remaining, just about everyone knew that this was their last chance to try to get back in the game. On the first two plays, John Clay busted up the middle for gains of 14 and 30 yards before the Badgers took a time out with a 1st & 10 on the TCU 33 with 6:31 left. White knuckle time.

Montee Ball managed just 4 yards on the next two plays, but Tolzein found Lance Kendricks for a 10 yard gain on 3rd & 6 to move the chains again for Wisconsin. John Clay got the ball on each of the next four plays, taking the ball to the TCU 14, 10, 8 and 4...all while the clock continued to tick. The Wisconsin line seemed to be having their way, and the Badgers had seized all of the game's momentum. Ball then scored from 4 yards out with exactly 2:00 remaining and the Badgers lined up for a potentially game-tying 2 point conversion try:

Honestly, it took a couple of moments for the reality of the play to sink in with me. The way Wisconsin had been driving the ball at will, I was almost sure they'd convert the try and tie the game up at 21 apiece. And as happy as I was with Tank's miraculous play, I knew that if the Badgers recovered the onside kick, there was a good chance they'd be able to score again to win it. Luckily, the sure-handed Bart Johnson was there to take the drama out of the onside kick and the Frogs were just one first down away from victory.

Matthew Tucker was stuffed for no gain on first down before Wisconsin took their last timeout with 1:52 remaining. Redshirt freshman Waymon James gained 6 yards on 2nd down, and then 5 on 3rd & 4 to seal the game for TCU. That was the first of about a thousand times that evening that I muttered to myself "we just won the Rose Bowl". An absolutely unreal feeling, and the proudest I've ever been to be a TCU graduate.

I realize it's a little silly of me to have just completely recapped a game that happened not even nine months ago...and that most of you either still have saved on your DVR or own on DVD. I also could've just posted this well-put together highlight video- but hey, you enjoyed reading this, right? Let's hear your Rose Bowl memories in the comments section.


shortnkerley's said...

I hear genuine excitement in the voice of Musburger as he's calling the Tank deflection. Then I hear masked upsetness from Herbstreit as the mighty Big 10 has fallen.

NurseFrog31 said...

The thing that always gets me about this clip, is how absolutely PISSED Gary gets... Everyone else is jumping up and down in sheer joy and Gary is being... Gary.

Not ashamed to say, I might've cried that night. Yes, it was a girly thing to do, but I was just that excited.

The Showstopper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
VikingFrog said...

I've watched that clip one thousand time and never really noticed that Tank pretty much takes out his own team mate because he's so focused on the ball.

Shoves him right over from behind.


That game was awesome.

Sadly, I wasn't there.

The Showstopper said...

There are pictures lurking around somewhere of me doubled over the railing above the tunnel on the 10 yd line crying my eyes out.

I didn't really know how exactly I would react when we won. But, all of the emotion of 10 years came out. The just out of reach in Nebraska. The win in Hattiesburg. The disaster in the Dome. The interception out of nowhere in Cincy. The phantom fumble in ECU. The Liberty Bowl. Goolsby's hit on Hackney. The Hattiesburg disaster and ride back. The long ride back from Lubbock. The 99 yd letdown against Tulane. Burning down Norman. Forgetting to show up at SMU. The comeback in Provo. The Houston Bowl. 12-3 over Tech. Beck the Butcher. Lonta getting pissed at NIU. Texas. Schultz's idiotic call at AFA. Wild Frog on BYU. Ross Evans at SLC. The Poinsettia Bowl. UVA. Clemson monsoon. AFA ice storm. Fiesta failure. Destroying the Utes in SLC. SDSU survival.

Everything came rushing back and I knew we had finally done it. We had finally shown the world what the rest of us already knew - TCU is the best football program in America.

NurseFrog31 said...

Thanks for making me tear up again, Showstopper.

ctbeecherl said...

I went hoarse on that night because we could not stop yelling... "We just fucking won the ROSE BOWL". Best New Years day ever.

Rotten Arsenal said...

I was at home and I started drinking heavily (high octane Belgian beer), just before the game started because there was no way I was gonna be able to watch that game sober.
I distinctly remember my heart dropping on the Badgers' first play from scrimmage and thinking "Awwww fuck...".
But things worked out in the end. I got wasted, my wife was amused (except when my yelling scared the dogs), and everybody thought my Facebook postings were hilarious (I don't remember them). And then my "brother" (best friend who is more like the brother I never had) called to congratulate us (one of the rare Tech fans that isn't a moron) and all I really remember saying to him in the 30 minute phone call was "I love you."
What I can remember from 1/1/11 will stand as some of my all-time favorite memories.

Geezer Frog said...

Every time I re-watch this game I start screaming at the nike shit shoes, as the Frogs were slipping & sliding. I was terrified we were going to lose another game to nike.

Reed said...

i was at the rose parade that morning at 530 am, and when the mighty gay badger band went by everyone cheered loudly. When the gdi frog band went by and played our fight song I was the only person out of about 500 that yelled "RAH RAH TCU, RAH RAH TCU" bc no way was i gonna let that moment pass without someone representing. im drunk, and have class in the morning, thank God for tank carders deflection. I may also add that i tutored Tank my senior year (his freshman) in american history post 1877