If you win a conference title in one of the automatic qualifying conferences you get to go to a BCS bowl game. What do you get when you win a conference title in the Mountain West or the WAC? The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
TCU represents the Mountain West after a perfect 7-0 record in conference play. The Horned Frogs are 10-2 overall and enter the Poinsettia Bowl as the #18 team in the nation. TCU will be taking on the WAC champions, Louisana Tech. The Bulldogs won the WAC this year with a conference record of 6-1, their lone loss coming to the University of Hawaii. La Tech finished 8-4 overall and played good football every week. The Bulldogs lost to three bowl bound teams in Southern Miss, Houston, and Mississippi State. Louisiana Tech heads into the Poinsettia Bowl on a 7 game winning streak.
When TCU is on Offense
The Horned Frogs had no trouble putting up points this year at 41.7 points per game, 9th best in the nation. Their running attack was especially potent at 210.2 yards per game. Running backs Waymon James, Matthew Tucker, and Ed Wesley give TCU a three-headed monster in the backfield. James averaged an amazing 7.7 yards per carry on his way to 824 yards. Tucker ran for 684 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wesley missed a few games but still finished with 649 yards on 6.6 yards per carry. Sophomore quarterback Casey Pachall had big shoes to fill taking over for Andy Dalton, and he did so admirably. Pachall was very efficient, completing 67.8% of his passes with 24 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions.
Louisiana Tech’s defense played well this season, especially during their 7 game winning streak. For the season, the Bulldogs gave up an average of 22.5 points per game. In their last seven games, Louisiana Tech held opponents to 14.9 points per game. The Bulldogs defense had 32 sacks this season and had the third most interceptions in the nation with 20. Their defense also finished third with 5 returns for a touchdown this year.
When Louisiana Tech is on Offense
Louisiana Tech is not an offensive juggernaut, but they held their own this season scoring 30.6 points per game. Colby Cameron took over at quarterback part way through the season and did not lose a game as a starter. Cameron threw for 1,403 yards and 11 touchdowns in 6 games this season. He put up huge games against Fresno State (376 yards, 4 td) and Nevada (355 yards, 3 td). Quinton Patton was Cameron’s favorite target with 74 catches and and 1,135 yards.
The Horned Frogs defense was good this year, although not quite up to the standard we expect from Gary Patterson’s defense. TCU gave up an average of 21.3 points per game, but only came up with 24 sacks and 9 interceptions in their 12 games. Defensive end Stansly Maponga is difficult to block around the end and finished the season with 9 sacks and 4 fumbles forced.
2011 Poinsettia Bowl Pick Against the Spread
TCU is currently a 10 point favorite over Louisiana Tech. The Horned Frogs are definitely a better football team than their Poinsettia Bowl opponent. However, La Tech ended the year on a hot streak offensively and defensively, and I like the Bulldogs to keep this one closer than expected. I like TCU to win outright, but I will take Louisiana Tech and the 10 points.
2011 Poinsettia Bowl Prediction
TCU – 31
La Tech – 24