UW rushed for 226 yards at 4.9 yards per pop, with the backs seemingly falling for five yards every time they touched the ball. Wisconsin didn't turn the ball over and possessed it for 36:35 of the game. Both fourth down conversions head coach Bret Bielema tried were picked up. The Badgers came within four yards of becoming the first FBS team in college football history to boast three running backs with 1,000 yards to their name.
Lacking from that statistical cornucopia, however, is any praise for the passing attack.
All season long, the Badgers have bludgeoned teams on the ground and just when it seems like forward pass had become re-outlawed, senior quarterback Scott Tolzien would strike with a play-action pass for 20 yards. The combination led to Tolzien winning the Johnny Unitas Award, along with leading the nation in completion percentage at a 74.3 percent clip.
Saturday, the combination didn't click. At all.
The ground game did its part, but with the passing attack only accounting for 159 yards on 12-of-21 passing (57 percent), the Badgers couldn't put on their customary offensive fireworks display.
"What got us here was clean execution and clean disciplined football, and we didn't do that today all around, myself included," Tolzien said. "That's why it's the greatest game, because you don't execute and you're on edges. The other team's going to find a way to beat you. I think you also give credit to TCU for a good game plan and just playing their tails off. It was a four-quarter , and it was unfortunate all around for us."
Third downs were a particular struggle, as the passing game picked up just four of its ten attempts.
Nick Toon dropped two passes on the money down, Tolzien took a brutal sack as Defensive Player of the Game Tank Carder barreled in at full speed on one third down and several false start penalties were taken to back up the yardage for the Badgers. It was UW's most penalized game of the year with six penalties for 41 yards.
Already starting drives in the second half on their own five, three and 11-yard line, the mistakes on third-down proved to be to much to overcome with a long field ahead.
Per usual, Tolzien took full responsibility for the struggles.
"There were pressures, but I know there is stuff that I can do too when that happens," Tolzien said. "Notably getting rid of the ball quicker, and that's what I can control, and I didn't do that. It hurt us today, especially on third down."
With the Badgers outgaining TCU 385-301 in total yards, the self inflicted wounds are harder to swallow.
"We didn't capitalize or do what we needed to do," UW senior and captain John Moffitt said simply.