A look at the numbers that mattered in TCU's 31-24 Poinsettia Bowl win last night in San Diego.
4: Tackles made by linebacker Tank Carder in his final game in TCU purple. He wasn't quite as much of a difference-maker like he was in last year's Rose Bowl, but he leaves Fort Worth a three-time bowl champion nonetheless.
6: Plays run by Louisiana Tech in the game's final 17:10. The Bulldogs took a 24-17 lead on a 61-yard bomb from Colby Cameron to Myles White, and then TCU played Keep Away. The Horned Frogs ground out 31 plays for 158 yards in three drives (including the 18-play, nine-minute, game-tying drive that included two fourth-and-short conversions), forced two quick three-and-outs, possessed the ball for 14:52, and removed any hope of a Bulldog win. It wasn't easy -- in fact, it played out almost exactly as projected -- but credit to TCU for making every play they absolutely had to make.
12.5: Colby Cameron's completion percentage over the game's final 19 minutes. He completed just one of his final eight passes, turning a decent 20-for-35 passing line into a 21-for-43 festival of inefficiency. Louisiana Tech found some holes in TCU's defense early on -- as mentioned yesterday, the time to attack TCU is early, before they tighten the wrench -- and little-used Tech receiver Myles White had a lovely game (seven catches, 110 yards), but Tech needed one more nice drive and couldn't get it done.
17: Average gain of the five passes directed at TCU's No. 2 receiver, Skye Dawson. He caught four of five passes for 85 yards and reeled in the game-winning, 42-yard touchdown with under five minutes remaining. Quarterback Casey Pachall otherwise had a relatively mediocre day -- 11-for-24, 121 yards in passes not to Dawson -- but like TCU, he did just enough.
36: Taulib Ikharo's catch rate. The Louisiana Tech receiver was a key cog in the Bulldogs' offense late in the season, but despite being targeted with more passes (11) than anybody else in blue and red, he pulled in only four catches for 41 yards. In the second half, passes to Ikharo were only 1-for-4 for seven yards.
146: Rushing yards gained by the TCU trio of Ed Wesley, Waymon James and Matthew Tucker. It's a broken record at this point, but like the rest of TCU's offense, the run game was just effective enough. Here's what I said about the Louisiana Tech defense yesterday:
Louisiana Tech has succeeded defensively by severely limiting teams' big-play abilities. They leverage teams into passing downs, then tee off. Senior ends Matt Broha and Christian Lacey have been phenomenal, combining for 16 sacks, 14 quarterback hurries and 20.5 tackles for loss. Combined with stellar cornerback play from Terry Carter and Dave Clark (combined: four interceptions, 13 passes broken up) and some incredible sideline-to-sideline work from linebacker Adrien Cole (96.0 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss), and one gets the impression that Louisiana Tech very much as the athletic ability to keep up with the Horned Frogs. One should probably be able to figure out which unit is going to win this battle by whether TCU's early rushes are gaining two yards or six. If Tech can minimize the effectiveness of the TCU running game, they could tee off on Pachall on passing downs and stay in this game to the very end.
Louisiana Tech forced four punts on TCU's five drives and picked of Pachall in the third quarter, but TCU sealed the game by avoiding passing downs down the stretch. In their 18-play, game-tying drive, 13 plays were on standard downs.