Montee Ball rushed for 132 yards and a late score for the Big Ten co-champion Badgers, whose loss capped a nightmare New Year's Day for their conference. The Big Ten went 0-5 in bowl games Saturday, including the Badgers' loss to one of those teams Ohio State president Gordon Gee said didn't deserve to play for the national championship because they play opponents like "Little Sisters of the Poor."
"Hopefully the scar that we're going to take from this game can get us back here sooner than later," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "This game wasn't decided on one play or two plays. It was probably an accumulation of about 10 or 12 plays that we failed to execute, and they did."
TCU's defense led the nation in several categories this season, but critics said the Frogs hadn't faced the likes of Wisconsin's fearsome offensive line. The Badgers were dominant at times, particularly in a frenetic first quarter that featured 24 combined points, but TCU hung on against Wisconsin's attack with guts, third-down stops — and plenty of Carder.
With a litany of big plays that included a de-cleating sack of Scott Tolzien to kill a third-quarter drive, Carder was the leader all game — and the hero on Wisconsin's final snap.
Luke Shivers' 1-yard TD run put TCU ahead 21-13 early in the third quarter, but neither team scored again until Wisconsin mounted a 77-drive in the waning minutes. Ball rushed for a 4-yard score with 2 minutes to play, and the Frogs expected the Badgers to run for the conversion behind their dominant line.
But Wisconsin came out in a spread, and Carder batted down Tolzien's throw, timing his leap perfectly. Jacob Pedersen was open in the end zone after the Frogs blew their coverage scheme, but the ball never got close to the Wisconsin tight end.
"I figured it was going to be a run," Carder said of the final play. "Coach P called a blitz. I went to go blitz and got blocked and couldn't get through the hole, so I just stopped, backed up, saw him cock his arm back, and that was the end of it."
Johnson easily grabbed Wisconsin's onside kick, and TCU rushed for a final first down to kill the clock.
Tolzien went 12 of 21 for 159 yards for the Badgers, and John Clay rushed for a first-quarter score. Wisconsin outgained the Frogs 385-301 and held the ball for all but three plays in the second quarter, but twice settled for field goals by Philip Welch, who also missed a 39-yard attempt before halftime.
"We know how much this means to everybody involved," Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt said through tears. "We work 365 days for this, and then we come out here and don't execute."
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