CFN Analysis - TCU Rallies To Win Poinsettia
Posted Dec 21, 2011

The instant analysis and reaction to the Poinsettia Bowl

CFN Analysis   

TCU 31, Louisiana Tech 24

By Pete Fiutak

- It's alright to say it now. TCU would've been rolled in a BCS game.

- Exhale, Big 12. TCU is coming into the league coming off a bowl win.

- This is a young, YOUNG, Horned Frog team that's going to be far better over the next few years. There's a chance Casey Pachall could be the league's best quarterback next year – if everyone who's supposed to turn pro actually does it.

- I'll be the one to say it: TCU might have the best receiving corps in the 2012 Big 12.

- Both Pachall and the TCU receivers are much, much better than they showed against Tech.

- Conference USA and Mountain West; what else do you need to see from Louisiana Tech?

- The Sonny Dykes contract extension should provide the stability the bigger conferences are looking for.

- Louisiana Tech came into the game with the punting and punt return game two huge plusses, but TCU's Anson Kelton was better than Louisiana Tech's Ray Guy winner, Ryan Allen, and the Bulldog punt return game didn't go anywhere.

- But Allen had a whale of a dive to get a phantom running into the kicker call.

- The Louisiana Tech linebackers, particularly Jay Dudley, made plays, but not enough of them in the second half. The TCU O line turns it on when it had to.

- Did the loss of offensive coordinator Justin Fuentes to the Memphis head coaching gig hurt the TCU offense? The execution wasn't quite as crisp as it needed to be.

- Hunter Lee did what he could, but the Tech offense desperately missed the injured Lennon Creer running the ball.

By Richard Cirminiello 

There's no underestimating the value of knowing how to win close games. The Poinsettia Bowl was a classic case of one team, TCU, having thrived in this spot before, and the other, Louisiana Tech, still learning how to finish.

Still, while moral victories are no fun, the Bulldogs deserve a ton of credit for not only how they battled the country's No. 18 team in San Diego, but also for how well they performed all year. Tech will continue to improve the longer that Sonny Dykes is in Ruston, installing his system, and recruiting the right players to run that attack.

No, Horned Frogs QB Casey Pachall was not especially sharp through the air at Qualcomm Stadium, but there's something about this sophomore that I really, really like. He brings a certain toughness and moxie to the huddle that can sometimes be more valuable than a tight spiral. He's going to win plenty of big games in Fort Worth for TCU over the next two seasons.

DE Stansly Maponga has the look of the next great defensive player for coaches Gary Patterson and Dick Bumpas. The sophomore from Carrollton, Tex. packed on more muscle and weight in 2011, yet hasn't lost the quickness and get-off that are going to frustrate opposing Big 12 tackles a year from now.

Players like WR Quinton Patton are the reason small-school coaches, like Dykes, invest so much time trolling the junior college ranks looking for immediate help at need areas. The junior had a terrific debut out of Coffeyville (Kans.) Community College, setting the table for what might be an NFL audition in 2012.

Patterson just concluded a "down year" by his standards, winning 11 games and the Mountain West crown. He will not get exposed in the Big 12, as some are trying to suggest. In fact, the bigger spotlight might finally earn him the national recognition that he richly deserves.

By Matt Zemek

-- The "grumble factor," otherwise known as the distinct desire to NOT play in a given bowl game, almost snared TCU on Wednesday. This was the only way this game was going to be close, and by golly, a strong case of the "grumbles" almost felled the Frogs.

-- Almost.

-- It's a great credit to a team that it could endure the heartbreak of being jobbed by the larger bowl system – don't you dare say that this game and this matchup represented an appropriate reward for TCU's third straight Mountain West Conference championship – and still find enough pride to dig out a fourth-quarter win. That's what maturity is all about: Dealing with a bad had dealt by life and doing the only thing(s) one can do under the diminished, less-than-fully-desirable circumstances. Kudos to the Frogs for not folding the tent.

-- Meanwhile, speaking of kudos, they're very much in order for Louisiana Tech… not just for playing hard and making a game of it against TCU, but for the generous, altruistic actions of Bulldog players who donated their bowl gifts to young kids and made substantial investments of their time in the service of others. The Louisiana Tech family can rightly be proud of its football program, which put its best foot forward on and off the field.

-- 24,000 and change; this, one night after 20,000 and change attended the St. Petersburg Bowl. Ah, yes, this is what postseason trophy games are really all about, right?

By: Russ Mitchell

In its third Poinsettia Bowl in six years, TCU started off slowly, and La Tech never let them forget it. In fact, until the Horned Frogs scored the winning touchdown with four minutes and change to spare, the Bulldogs had trailed less than three minutes for the entire game.

While TCU won the game with a 42-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Casey Pachall to Skye Dawson, it was the Horned Frogs rushing attack that really made the difference. TCU rushed 51 times to 27 for La Tech, and while the yards per carry was nearly identical, the additional carries helped sway time of possession well in favor of TCU.

With the win, TCU moves on to the Big 12 with a 3-0 record in Poinsettia Bowls. For TCU, this move couldn't come soon enough.

Nevertheless, this game was far closer than most anticipated. TCU had 22 first downs to La Tech's 19, 396 total yards to La Tech's 360. Both teams averaged roughly the same number of yards per completion and/or run, and both had two turnovers – a fumble and an interception each.

For TCU, it marked the third time this season they had a fourth quarter comeback, including the 36-35 victory over Boise State in Idaho a month ago.

Which does make one wonder what are the Horned Frogs doing in San Diego anyway? As Mountain West champions, shouldn't they be playing in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl? (Not that ASU as an opponent is an upgrade over an under-respected Louisiana Tech.) Though really, shouldn't they have been playing in a bowl even more prestigious than that? Ah, the bowl season... Pure. Beyond reproach...

By Terry Johnson

- TCU deserves a lot of credit for winning this game. Rather than hang their heads after the BCS passed them over, the Horned Frogs regrouped and played an excellent second half against a better than advertised Louisiana Tech team.

- This game was actually decided late in the third quarter. Trailing 24-17 with 2:10 remaining, the Horned Frogs went on a 17-play 82-yard drive that took 9 minutes off the clock, and wore down the Louisiana Tech defense. TCU promptly forced a three-and-out, putting a tired Bulldog defense back on the field.

- The game ball goes to the Horned Frogs defense. While they took their lumps at times, the defense took over the game in the second half, limiting Louisiana Tech to just 120 yards. More impressively, they bottled up the Bulldog running game, allowing only 3.6 yards per carry with a long of only 14 yards.

- With tonight's win, Gary Patterson tied the legendary Dutch Meyer as TCU's all-time winningest coach.

- After losing Andy Dalton to the NFL draft, many expected TCU to struggle at the QB position. However, after tonight's performance Casey Pachall now holds the TCU single season record for completions and passing yardage. Keep an eye on him as the Horned Frogs move to the Big 12 next season.

- Even with tonight's loss, Louisiana Tech had an outstanding season. Despite starting the season 1-4, the Bulldogs rallied back to win seven straight games, with five of those wins on the road. With a number of players returning next season – along with the departure of Nevada, Fresno State, and Hawaii - Tech should win the WAC again next year.

- Why does Louisiana Tech want to remain in the WAC? Given their recent success, they would be a perfect candidate to join the Sun Belt, the Mountain West, or Conference USA. Do they really want to remain in a six-team conference (after all the defections) that will easily be the worst in the nation?

By Phil Harrison

- Welcome to one of the bowl games that resembles an order at Starbucks. It's a mouth full and you hope you got it right when saying it. Let's try it all together--The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl....Venti.

- This game was the antithesis of what we all witnessed last night in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl. This wasn't one of the much anticipated match ups, but what it did pass for was a highly entertaining game that was fairly well played, and extremely competitive.

- Congratulations Gary Patterson on moving into a tie as the all-time wins leader at TCU. He has meant everything to what many used to see as the little engine that could, and now has the Horned Frogs right on the verge of joining the Big Twelve and becoming a solid program in a BCS league. It's hard to believe that the program would have gotten here without him.

- Louisiana Tech deserves some serious credit for coming to play tonight. The Bulldogs showed everyone that its seven game winning streak coming into tonight was not to be taken lightly, and even more importantly showed the college football world that they were talented enough to play with, and even beat a TCU team that had it all rolling. If the Bulldogs had won tonight, it would've been no fluke.

- You never know what kind of effort teams are going to bring into bowl games, and especially from those teams that may be disappointed by the bowl invite received. TCU was just out of arm's reach of making a BCS bowl and it played groggy through three quarters. As mentioned, a lot of it had to do with the effort from the opponent, but you'd be foolish to note realize that the Horned Frogs are the better team. Credit where credit is due--TCU found a way to buck up, bow its chest, and play with the pride needed to pull out the victory despite yearning for more recognition.

- Welcome to the big time Casey Pachall. It's hard to replace an all everything performer like Andy Dalton, but if TCU wants to be competitive in its new neighborhood next year, it'll need to get continued development and strong play from the junior to be QB. In a league of quarterbacks, he'll have to shine and provide the same consistent play than he has shown this year for what could be a tough transition for the program. So far so good, and the expectations will probably go through the roof for him next year--and beyond.

- Under Colby Cameron, the Bulldogs have certainly found themselves a QB. It's hard to believe that the junior was the back-up to start the season and only got the call when freshman Nick Isham went down with a shoulder injury. Coming into the game, Colby had engineered his team to five straight wins and ultimately a WAC championship. It's doubtful that he'll be the back up next year.

- Off to the Big Twelve TCU. Embrace the underdog role, but look to become top dog. It should be interesting....