Cheez-It Bowl Recap

Cheez-It Bowl Recap
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 26: Cornerback Keenan Reed #4 of the TCU Horned Frogs celebrates following the Cheez-it Bowl at Chase Field on December 26, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Horned Frogs defeated the Golden Bears 10-7 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

To say the matchup between the TCU Horned Frogs and the California Golden Bears was a very low scoring affair, would be an understatement. The two teams combined for a total of 17 points and a winner was not decided until overtime. In the Cheez-It Bowl Preview, we predicted that this game would be a defensive battle and a low-scoring game. This is exactly what we got. A whole lot of defense, and little to no offense. Nevertheless, TCU had just enough in the tank to finish the game off in overtime.

Cheez-It Bowl Recap

In a game in which there was dramatically little offense, somehow there was still enough excitement. TCU vs. California had the smallest point spread of all the 40 bowl games this year. Coming into the game the stat line had TCU as only a one-point favorite. We predicted a close game at 21-20 in favor of TCU. However, no one could have expected this game to end with only 17 total points.

There were only two scores in regulation time for this game. In the first quarter, Chase Garbers had a four-yard touchdown run to cap off a 34 -yard drive. This would be the only score for 30 and a half minutes until TCU finally got on the board with a one-yard run from Sewo Olonilua. We would then have to wait another 15 minutes and an overtime period for there to be another score. California had the ball to start overtime, but unfortunately threw an interception which all but sealed the game for the TCU. Then, Kicker Jonathon Song drilled a 27-yard field goal to win the Cheez-It bowl for the Horned Frogs.

TCU Is Just Offensive Enough

TCU came out victorious in this low scoring match-up, however, it is just as likely that the game could have swung in the favor of the Golden Bears. For TCU, the passing game was virtually nonexistent. The Horned Frogs relied on third-string quarterback Grayson Muehlstein to get the victory. He completed a mere 7 of his 20 passes for only 27 yards and no touchdowns. The striking statistic from this game is that Muehlstein threw four interceptions and the Horned Frogs still came away with a victory. In most instances when a quarterback throws four picks, it is almost impossible to win the game, but TCU got the job done.

The most valuable player of this game was unquestionably Sewo Olonilua. He rushed for 194 yards on 32 carries and racked up one touchdown. He averaged just over six yards per rush and took anything he wanted from the Golden Bears defense. His tenacity to push the ball up the field is what won TCU this game. In a night in which the passing game struggled, Olonilua made sure to do his part and step up.

TCU Defense

This was going to be a defensive game coming into the bowl, however, TCU’s ability to force throws and make the offense uncomfortable was the biggest factor. The Horned Frogs forced five interceptions on Wednesday night. The secondary did a great job of ball-hawking and jumping routes in order to turn the ball over. It was known that TCU was more of a defensive-minded team, but this performance proves just how dominant they can really be.

Cal

California’s biggest obstacle was taking care of the football. They turned the ball over at an alarming rate and is what ultimately cost them the game. The Golden Bears featured two quarterbacks in this game because Chase Garbers just could not get the job done. Garbers completed 12 of 19 passes for 93 yards and rushed for one score. Unfortunately, of his seven incompletions, three ended up as interceptions. As a result, California looked to Chase Forrest to guide them to victory. Forrest also struggled as he only completed 5 of 14 passes for 71 yards and no touchdowns. He threw two interceptions as well, the biggest one coming in overtime which eventually led to TCU kicking the game-winning field goal.

California Defense

California’s defense did just as well as TCU’s, however, their offense just could not do enough. The Golden Bears picked off Grayson Muehlstein four times and only allowed 27 passing yards. This would be a dream day for any defensive coordinator, however, the California rush defense looked abysmal. They gave up a total of 262 yards on the ground and were clearly outworked in this facet of the game. If they even did half as well in rushing defense as they did in passing, it is very likely that the Golden Bears would have been victorious.

Biggest Factor

These teams were so evenly matched. But TCU’s defense was the biggest factor in winning them this game. Not to take away from Sewo Olonilua’s incredible day on the ground, but defense wins championships. The interception by Jawuan Johnson in overtime put this game away and helped TCU earn their 17th bowl victory.

 

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