Instant analysis: TCU 31, La. Tech 24
This one isn't going to win Best in Show. Four turnovers. Costly penalties (should you really be getting 12-men-in-the-huddle penalties in the 13th game of the year?). At times, neither really looked the part of a conference champion. But credit TCU for overcoming a lethargic start and credit Louisiana Tech for scrapping and pushing the No. 18 team in the land. Here's how it all went down in San Diego:
How the game was won: With the teams locked at 24-24, TCU got the ball at its own 31 with 6:24 left in the game. Unlike in their previous scoring drive that tied the game (read on), quarterback Casey Pachall moved the Horned Frogs 69 yards in just 1:58, connecting with Skye Dawson on a 42-yard scoring strike. The defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing drive and the offense was able to run out the final 3:33.
Turning point: Trailing 24-17, TCU put together its longest drive of the season -- an 18-play, 72-yard march that sucked up 9 minutes, 21 seconds of clock. The Frogs converted two fourth-and-1s and picked up a pass-interference call in the end zone, setting up Luke Shivers' 1-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 24-24.
Stat of the game: 100 percent — TCU's fourth-down conversion rate. The Horned Frogs were bad on third down — just 2-of-11 until late in the game — but they kept two scoring drives alive by converting all three fourth-and-1s.
Player(s) of the game: TCU's offensive line did a fantastic job keeping Pachall sack-free and holding off one of the better pass rushes in the country. It helped the Horned Frogs to 190 yards on the ground and on the final drive that ran out the clock, the line looked like it had worn down the Bulldogs' defensive front.
Unsung hero: Pachall's barber. Not too many quarterbacks can pull off the shaved writing in the hair.
What it means: TCU closes out its Mountain West Conference tenure with a sixth consecutive win for the conference in the Poinsettia Bowl. Coach Gary Patterson picks up his 109th career victory at TCU, tying Dutch Meyer for most wins in school history. TCU is now 6-1 in its past seven bowl games.
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