San Diego, CA
7:00 pm CST
8-4 (6-1) WAC Champion
This is the first game of the bowl season to pit two conference champions against each other. It's also the first bowl game to feature a ranked team.
What an odd year for TCU. A year after going 13-0 with a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin as the cherry on top, an Andy Dalton-less TCU figured to suffer a bit of a dip, but here they are again as Mountain West champions. Their annual tough game against Utah was replaced by their annual tough game against Boise State and they came out on top once again undefeated in conference play. Their two losses included a dramatic, close loss to Baylor (who turned out to be not so bad themselves) and an overtime loss to SMU that included one of the year's best coaching meltdowns. TCU was slated to head to the Big East after this season, but once Texas A&M and Missouri defected from the Big XII to the SEC, the Big XII came a courtin' to Ft. Worth and snagged the Horned Frogs for themselves. TCU would've likely run roughshod over the Big East, but will now likely find themselves suffering the same growing pains as Utah experienced in the Pac-12 this year.
TCU scores a lot of points (41.7 per game) and their defense allows around 21 points per game, meaning they blow a lot of teams out of the water. Besides their loss to Hawai'i, Louisiana Tech's other three losses are games that you would expect a WAC team to lose even if they are the WAC champion: Mississippi State, Houston, and Southern Miss. They took Mississippi State to overtime and lost by two to Southern Miss. Even high octane Houston only scraped out a 35-34 victory that required a 21-0 fourth quarter to finally put the Bulldogs away. Credit Louisiana Tech for not giving up on the season and going on to win the WAC seeing as they were 1-4 after their first five games. Going on a 7-0 run after a start like that is certainly commendable. La Tech's defense holds opponents to an average of 22.5 points per game, so the two defenses in this contest have performed similarly. The Bulldog offense isn't nearly as potent though as it manages around 30 points per game and is only the 70th best rushing team in the country. TCU is a 10.5 point favorite, the largest margin we've seen in any bowl game so far.