Line of Sight

To have the top-ranked defense in the country, plenty of things have to be working together. No.3 TCU's 4-2-5 scheme has been its crutch all season long and it starts up front with a talented defensive line.

LOS ANGELES – When it comes to analogies, TCU Defensive Coordinator Dick Bumpas unleashed the perfect comparison for Saturday's Rose Bowl between his third-ranked Horned Frogs and No.4 Wisconsin.

"(It's) like a Ferrari and a dump truck," Bumpas said. "We are fast, but the reality of it is when the dump truck is going straight ahead, it's a dangerous weapon."

Most of the attention in the days and weeks leading up to the 97th Rose Bowl in nearby Pasadena has been about the size advantage Wisconsin possesses over TCU from its offensive line – a group whose smallest player is 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds – and a running back trio that has rushed for 2,829 yards.

Wisconsin hasn't fallen for that argument in the past, and it isn't falling for it now, especially when the smaller defense has as much speed and playmakers than any other team on the Badgers' schedule.

"We're a lot bigger than they are, but we don't look at it like that," senior John Moffitt said. "I mean, I think a talented defensive lineman is a talented defensive lineman. And if he knows what he's doing and he has good technique, he's just as hard to block as a guy that's 6-5, 300 pounds."

It's hard to say the number one defense in the country – giving up only 11.4 points and 215.4 yards per game – is underrated, but three of TCU's four defensive line are under 270 pounds. Advantage Wisconsin?

Offensive Line Coach Bob Bostad isn't buying it, especially when he's seen how well the Horned Frogs' play into a 4-2-5 scheme and have players that are smart enough to recognize a formation and are able to adjust their alignment accordingly.

"There aren't a lot of teams that have executed offensively like we do against them," Bostad said "It's going to be new to both sides because of the uniqueness of it. They play with great pad level and their defensive linemen are very active. I think there two inside linebackers are two of the better bakers we'll be facing this year. I think they start up front and fill backwards."

Where they lack in size, TCU makes up for speed and athleticism. Flip on the tape of TCU's defensive line fly off the line of scrimmage with a quick hit and a low pad level, it will remind many, including UW's head coach, of an SEC-type team.

"That's a fair thing to say," Bielema said. "They're fast and they don't miss too many tackles on film. They start up front and build backwards. They have their safeties keyed in for the run game reads as good as anybody."

The Horned Frogs' Mountain West competition can vouch for that, seeing as TCU has lost one conference game in the last three years (23-1) and only four games in the time span have been decided by single digits.

Against BYU and the Cougars 48th-ranked rushing offense, averaging 163.8 yards per game, was held to a season-low 56 rushing yards, 147 total yards and 10 first downs in a 31-3 defeat Oct.16.

"They play the run very well and they don't have to play the run with extra players," BYU Coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "They rarely blitz, they rarely send extra players and they don't commit any more than they need to stop the run. The safeties are very active but they play the pass effectively from their position.

"You are getting the best of both worlds. You are getting very physical players and quick reactors up front, but you could end up with a nine-man front based on reactions from their safeties. TCU is very effective in limiting an opponent to run the ball, and with Wisconsin, that's its primary motive and goal."

The defensive line isn't the only thing lost in the Rose Bowl headlines, and TCU's run game will be more than happy to lie undetected. Ranked eighth in the nation with 261.2 yards per game, the Frogs' 39 rushing touchdowns are sixth in the nation and the group has topped 300 yards three times, including a 377-yard performance against Air Force.

The challenge for Wisconsin defensively will be to recognize the run out of the multitude of formations Coach Gary Patterson likes to throw at his opponents. From two backs and a tight end to four wide receivers and an empty backfield, TCU runs everything from spread to traditional to Pistol offenses.

"They'll run what they are having success with it," Defensive Coordinator Dave Doeren said. "They do everything and they do a good job. We'll have to be ready for everything."

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