TCU Horned Frogs vs. Wisconsin Badgers Betting Odds and Pick to Cover the Point Spread

No. 3 Texas Christian Horned Frogs (12-0 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. No. 5
Wisconsin Badgers (11-1 SU, 7-5 ATS), Rose Bowl Game Presented by
Vizio, 5:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, January 1, 2011, Rose Bowl, Pasadena,
Calif., TV: ESPN

by Badger of

Betting Odds: TCU -2.5/Wis +2.5
Over/Under Total: 58.5

The 3rd-ranked TCU Horned Frogs were left on the outside looking in
at the title game despite an undefeated season, so instead theyll
have to settle for a lower-tiered BCS game in the Rose Bowl matched
up against the 5th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in Pasadena in what some consider the battle for third place.

The Horned Frogs racked up some impressive numbers in the Mountain
West Conference this season, finishing the regular season with a,
66-17, thrashing of New Mexico in the finale. Early season wins over
Oregon State and Baylor helped, but the Horned Frogs had their
signature win at Utah (47-7) in early in November and because
crushing teams like UNLV and Wyoming in the Mountain West doesnt
mean much, a perfect run was not enough for TCU to get into the title

With the Frogs impending move to the Big East next season this will
be the last time a perfect season will keep them out of the title
game, but the Frogs can still play the disrespect card one more
time for motivation before they leave the MWC by knocking off a
school from the Big Ten by beating the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.

But Wisconsin was the hottest team down the stretch in the Big Ten
Conference running off seven straight wins to close the season,
including the season-turning, 31-18, victory over Ohio State in
Madison and a season-saving, 31-30, win at Iowa the following week in
late October.

The Badgers improved their chances for the Big Tens automatic bid into a BCS bowl and a return trip to the Rose Bowl by running up
scores of 83 and 70 points against Indiana and Northwestern,
respectively, so it naturally sets up a good old fashioned grudge
match between their power running game and the Horned Frogs top-
ranked defense to see which team blinks first.

Unlike most of the other bowl games that havent seen much movement
in the betting line since it opened, this game is all over the board
right now. 5Dimes opened the game with TCU listed as 3-point
favorites, and there are still plenty of places that still show 3 on
their board, but early money on Wisconsin has dropped the line to 2.5
or as low as TCU minus -2 points at a few offshore sportsbooks.

The over/under total has moved a few points since it was released
too, opening at 56.5 a week ago and its all the way up to 58.5 at a
large majority of the books on the Web. Theres even one sportsbook
(Bovada) listing the total at 59, as the early steam is coming in fast
on the under play in this game.

As mentioned, this game will turn on how well Wisconsins power
running game can get going against the Horned Frogs heralded
defensive front seven.

Anchored by left tackle and Outland Trophy winner Gabe Carimi, the
Badgers offensive line goes 6-foot-6 and 300-pounds across the board
and is the biggest and strongest line the Frogs will have played
against this season. With John Clay (936 yards, 5.3 ypc), Montee Ball
(1,029 yards, 7.0 ypc) and James White (864 yards, 6.1 ypc) all
rotating at running back to stay fresh, the Badgers continue to lean
on you every play and just wear you down to the tune of 248 yards on
the ground each game.

Senior quarterback Scott Tolzien isnt flashy, but he led the nation
in accuracy (74.3 comp. %) and is very good of taking advantage of
openings in the passing game when teams brings safeties into the box
to stop the run.

But TCUs defense is the top-ranked defense in the country, limiting teams to just 215 yards of total offense and only 11.4 points per
game so something will have to give. The Frogs only allowed 89.2
yards per game on the ground, so you can bet their game plan is to
try and contain the Badgers and force Tolzien to have to win it in
the air.

TCU has its own senior quarterback in Andy Dalton who led an attack
that finished 10th in the country in yards (490.8 ypg), 9th in
rushing (260.5 ypg) and 4th in points scored (43.3 ppg), but most of
that was done against the weak sisters of the MWC. Ed Wesley (1,065
yards, 11 TD) and Matthew Tucker (694 yards, 7 TD) get a majority of
the carries out of the backfield, and TCU has 11 different receivers
that all averaged over 10 yards per catch, so on paper the Frogs
offense looks like they should be able to complete with the Badgers
offense in this game punch for punch.

But the Badgers defense will be a legitimate test for the Frogs
offense, more than the Frogs faced in the MWC this season, so those
big stats might not mean as much come kickoff. Wisconsin did allow
some yardage on the ground at times this season (128.5 ypg 34th),
so if Wesley and Tucker can find creases and take pressure off of
Dalton the Frogs could keep their defense fresh and off the field.

Dalton did miss some time with a sore elbow at the end of the regular
season, but hes listed as probable on the injury report and is
expected to be full strength by New Years Day.

The Badgers defense will also be facing the task of playing their
last game under defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, who will be
coaching in the game but will be moving on to become the head coach
at Northern Illinois following the Rose Bowl.

With no history between these schools on the field there isnt too
much data to go over to help and handicap this game. They did have
one common opponent this season, with Wisconsin drilling UNLV, 41-21,
in their season opener back in September well before the Horned Frogs
drilled them, 48-6, at the end of October.

The Badgers have had some struggles against teams from the MWC in the
past though, as they are just 1-4 ATS in their last five games
against a team from the Mountain West and just 2-6 ATS in their last
eight non-conference games overall.

Despite all of the early money driving the total upwards, the under
might actually be a strong play for this game. The under is 6-0-1 in
TCUs last seven bowl games and its 4-1-1 in their last six neutral
site games. The under is also 4-1 in Wisconsins last five bowl
games, its 6-1 in their last seven games against a MWC opponent, and
4-1 in their last five neutral site contests.

Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Many will be shocked, but I believe TCU will win this game and cover the spread.