- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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PASADENA, Calif. -- Instant analysis from the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO, which TCU won 21-19 over Wisconsin:
How the game was won: TCU's national-best defense surrendered 226 rushing yards to Wisconsin, but the Horned Frogs came up with big plays at crucial times over and over again. None was bigger than linebacker Tank Carder's pass break-up on Wisconsin's two-point conversion attempt with two minutes left that would have tied the game. Carder was huge all game, while quarterback Andy Dalton managed the game smartly and TCU's special teams pinned the Badgers in bad field position the entire second half.
Turning point: Other than the obvious two-point stop, TCU's opening drive in the second half. Leading just 14-13 and having played defense almost the entire second quarter, the Horned Frogs had to make something happen on their first possession. They got a controversial pass-interference penalty to aid the drive and went all the way in for the touchdown. That gave them a cushion and allowed them to play field position the rest of the way.
Stat of the game: Wisconsin's second half drives started on the Badgers own 3, 5, 11, and 23 yard lines.
Player of the game: Take your pick between Dalton and Carder. One led the offense, while the other powered the defense. But this was a total team effort by the Horned Frogs, as it had to be.
Second guessing: Wisconsin gashed TCU's defense almost at will, yet the Badgers tried passing the ball on some critical second-half downs. The two-point try curiously came out of the shotgun formation. And while the receiver was open, the Horned Frogs were happy to defend a pass in that situation than deal with the Badgers' big backs and offensive line.
What it means: TCU won the Rose Bowl. Just let that sink in for a minute. The Horned Frogs not only represented all the non-AQs out there, they earned an earth-shattering, program-rattling victory. All the non-AQs now have an argument in the future against power conference teams, and TCU can make a claim to at least a share of the national title at 13-0. With a move to the Big East coming in 2012, this is a program with seemingly limitless potential.