Defense is going to be the name of the game in the 2017 Alamo Bowl.
The Stanford Cardinal reached the Pac-12 Championship Game on the back of their defense and their ground game.
Meanwhile, Gary Patterson’s best versions of the TCU Horned Frogs have always been defense-based as well. That wasn’t always the case this season, but the Frogs are going to have to bring their best on that side of the ball to win the Alamo Bowl.
TCU Bowl History
TCU has had 11 seasons with at least 10 wins since 2002. The Horned Frogs have been to a bowl game in all but two campaigns since that point, including last year at the Liberty Bowl.
The Horned Frogs’ last postseason win came here in San Antonio two years ago. They beat Oregon 47-41.
TCU is 8-3 in its last 11 bowl games, including winning the Rose Bowl in 2010 and the Peach Bowl in 2014. This game doesn’t have the prestige of either of those games, but Patterson has always been able to get the most out of his squad no matter its bowl destination.
Stanford Bowl History
David Shaw is one of the best coaches in college football. He hasn’t won a National Championship with Stanford yet, but with a win in this game the Cardinal will finish No. 12 or better in the final AP rankings for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.
The Cardinal won the Sun Bowl last year and now have three straight postseason victories.
Stanford hasn’t lost a bowl game that wasn’t a New Year’s Six/BCS game since the 2009 Sun Bowl.
Why TCU Will Win the Alamo Bowl
Kenny Hill’s final numbers aren’t alarming this season, but one look back at the game he had against West Virginia will tell you just how dangerous he is. You don’t get the nickname, “The Thrill,” for nothing.
In that game against the Mountaineers, Hill had a touchdown pass, a touchdown run and a touchdown reception, accounting for 264 yards of offense.
Furthermore, TCU has a fantastic defensive line anchored by Chris Bradley, Ben Banogu and Matt Boesen. The Horned Frogs rank No. 4 in the nation against the rush. If Stanford can’t run the ball, it’s as good as dead in the Alamo Bowl.
Why Stanford Will Win the Alamo Bowl
No matter the defense that it has been up against this year, Stanford has stayed consistent in running the football as much as it can. Bryce Love is one of the best running backs in the nation. He played in 12 of Stanford’s 13 games and rumbled for 1,973 yards. Love was playing hurt at the end of the regular season, and that’s why he only carried the ball 14 times against California.
With Love well-rested, he could be good for 30 or even 40 carries in this game. TCU might have a great rush defense, but it hasn’t been run at with the physicality that Stanford is going to bring to the table. Remember the UCLA game when Love ran the ball 30 times for 263 yards? He dominated that one, and he might do the same thing this time around in the Alamo Bowl.
Alamo Bowl Prediction
The Alamo Bowl is a real strength vs. strength battle. The Cardinal haven’t played against this strong of a defense, while the Horned Frogs haven’t seen a power running game quite like this.
The difference between the two teams is that one has a quarterback and one doesn’t. All of the Stanford quarterbacks have been a disaster this season. Hill might not be elite, but he’s definitely got the ability to make the plays that can win this game.
Alamo Bowl Pick: TCU 27, Stanford 20
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