A Familiar Frustrating Scenario

Going against Wisconsin senior quarterback Scott Tolzien every day in practice, members of the Badgers' secondary can vouch for all tough an accuracy thrower can be to defend. When they pop on tape of TCU senior Andy Dalton, they see a lot of similarities ... and a lot of really good skills.

LOS ANGELES – Senior safety Jay Valai knows that every team has a weakness and the Irving, Texas native takes immense pride in being able to pick it up after a couple film sessions.

So when he popped in the tape of No.3 TCU and its senior quarterback from Katy, Texas, Valai understandably was a little bewildered. He couldn't find any discernable weakness when he watched Andy Dalton carve up opposing defenses, but he did pick up some character traits … traits he's seen every day for five seasons.

"He's an agile quarterback and a smart guy, kind of like our Scotty," Valai said, referring to UW senior quarterback Scott Tolzien. "Scotty is one of the best quarterbacks I've ever gone against and (Dalton) reminds me of him. It's going to be difficult, so we'll need to be on our P's and Q's."

Dalton has thrown 60 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions since his first season as a starter and is one of the main reasons No.3 TCU is looking to finish its undefeated season with a victory over No.4 Wisconsin in the 97th Rose Bowl in Saturday.

Tops in program history in five all-time categories, Dalton has not met a defense he hasn't liked this season for the undefeated Horned Frogs (12-0). The Mountain West player of the year, Dalton has thrown for 2,638 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 293 attempts, a far cry when he threw 11 interceptions as a redshirt freshman starter in 2007.

"He's definitely the guy that makes him go," junior safety Aaron Henry said. "He's the guy that makes all the decisions. You see him put things in at the line of scrimmage, make adjustments and is very poised. You can tell he is a seasoned quarterback that makes very few mistakes."

The similarities are justified between the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Dalton and the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Tolzien. Tolzien leads the country and is on pace to break the Big Ten single-season record (67.8 percent by Darrell Bevell in 1993) for completion percentage, having completed 74.3 percent of his passes this season. Since Oct. 6, Dalton is completing 67.4 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

During the Badgers' current seven-game winning streak, Tolzien has completed 107-of-136 (.787) passes for 1,322 yards, 10 TDs and four interceptions. In TCU's last 10 wins, Dalton has put together three of the top seven single- game completion percentages (min. 15 attempts) in TCU history.

The Badgers are 21-4 with Tolzien as the starting QB over the past two seasons. Dalton is a two-time bowl game Most Valuable Player, finished ninth in the 2010 Heisman Trophy voting, receiving four first-place votes, and is the nation's leader in active wins by a quarterback with 41.

More importantly, they are both fifth-year seniors that exude experience and lead an offense that averages 43.3 points per game.

"(Dalton has) played a lot of football," said UW Secondary Coach Chris Ash, who lost both his meetings against TCU when he was a coordinator at San Diego State. "Dalton is a great leader. He understands the offense and executes well. He's had a great season, very similar to the quarterback we have here, he throws the ball well, makes good decisions and makes the guys around him better by understanding the system."

But while Tolzien and Wisconsin's offense is self explanatory, Dalton makes things very complicated for opposing defenses. The Horned Frogs will emulate Wisconsin with a two running back, two tight end set and run the ball, but TCU isn't afraid to go empty backfield with four wide receivers, run some spread or run a Pistol offense similar to what Indiana uses, and they do all of it with the speed of a SEC team.

"There's a lot of different formations, a lot of shifts and they are very creative," UW Coach Bret Bielema said. "You can see offensively that they get people in predicaments that they scheme them for. The challenge that we'll have is something thrown at us that we haven't seen on film. I can guarantee that's going to happen."

It's also a guarantee that Dalton will try and make some plays with his legs. Rushing for 407 yards and five touchdowns this season, 27 of Dalton's 77 carries (35.1 percent) have gone for a first down. For his career, Dalton has 1,583 rushing yards (second among active players) and he is average 40 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry his last 39 games.

"He's deceptively fast," redshirt defensive tackle Jordan Kohout said. "I think people forget how well he can both run the ball and throw the ball. He's a field general out there."

Other than Big Ten Player of the Year Denard Robinson, who is Michigan's leading rusher, gaining 121 yards on 22 carries, the Badgers have done their job in limiting quarterbacks from getting those extra yards, as spread-offense quarterbacks Omar Clayton (UNLV) and Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State) have been held under 60 yards rushing.

"I think J.J. Watt has had a big role in that this year," Kohout joked, "but I think it's also about coming together as a defensive line as a whole. We worked so hard in the offseason to prepare us for those situations."

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