The 2011 Rose Bowl will go down as one of the finest games in the history of TCU football and for linebacker Tank Carder it could be even bigger. The Horned Frogs’ 21-19 win over the Wisconsin Badgers matched the hype and promise predicted before the contest and will long be remembered for one of the accidental greatest plays in college football history.
With the Frogs leading 21-13 and just over two minutes remaining in regulation, the Wisconsin offense ran the football with an efficiency that they seemed to lack earlier in the game. The Badgers marched 77 yards in 5:32 to put the TCU defense against the wall when Wisconsin running back Montee Ball punched it in from four yards out to put the score at 21-19. All the Badgers needed was a two point conversion to knot the score and put the pressure on TCU. But Carder had other plans.
After running the ball on every play of the drive with success, the Wisconsin offense lined up in the shotgun formation and called on a pass play to go for the tie. What unfolded will go down in Horned Frog lore as “The Immaculate Deflection.”
After the game Carder told the press, “On the last play, I figured it was going to be a run.” He went on to say, “I guess Coach P. saw something else, but they had been effectively running the ball for three or four yards the whole game. Fortunately they got a shotgun, and 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 I jumped, and that was the end of it.”
As the ball skittered to the slippery Pasadena turf, it took a few moments for Carder’s mind to wrap around what he had just done. He recounted to the media what happened after the play.
“That was a funny thing because I was talking to Tejay after the game. I was like, after I blocked it down it didn’t seem like that big of a play until it sunk in.” The junior linebacker went on to say, “They needed two points, and I swatted it and stopped them from getting two points. It didn’t sink in until five minutes after I did it. It was like, yeah, all right.”
All right, indeed. TCU head coach Gary Patterson just chalked it up to good playmaking.
“They had the right play called, and I can promise you, if you go back and look at the film, we just made a play, and sometimes that’s what happens,” said Patterson to the media. He added, “Because the safety — and this is going to really make them mad and they’re going to watch the film — we called the blitz where we brought the linebacker and safety off the edge, and that’s why it knocked it down.”
It was, indeed an immaculate deflection. Wisconsin had the right play called and had the man in place to make it happen. But thanks to Tank, the TCU defense made the game-clinching play. Now, the Horned Frogs are Rose Bowl Champions, and that’s the end of the fairy tale for these Frogs.
For more coverage on TCU’s Rose Bowl victory from more of a Wisconsin perspective, check out Big Ten Examiner Sean Jackson. For the national news visit National College Football Examiner Kevin.