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Poinsettia Bowl TCU vs Northern Illinois

December 19, 2006

TCU Horned Frogs (-12, 46) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies 8:00 PM EST

By Tony Adams

TCU (10-2) boasts a far superior record than Northern Illinois (7-5) and goes into this clash in San Diego as clear 11.5 point favorites.

Wolfe, a brilliant running back, shapes up as the x-factor as he has the ability to test a TCU defense ranked fourth in the nation. At 5'7" and 173 pounds, Wolfe is a pocket-rocket whose exciting running style will have him playing on Sundays next year.

The leading rusher in Division 1-A this year, Wolfe has crunched up 1,900 yards and ran in 18 touchdowns. And after something of a mini-slump in which he failed to break 100 yards for four straight games, Wolfe finished the regular season with a bang, scoring four touchdowns in the last two regular season games.

Northern Illinois is inferior to TCU in almost every other area of the game, and that is why Wolfe must get at least 25 carries to keep it close.

TCU went 11-1 last year, and finished with 10 straight wins culminating with a 27-24 victory over Iowa State in the Houston Bowl. This year, they have won their last seven games under Coach Gary Patterson, and are currently ranked 25th in the nation.

A big reason behind that success has been quarterback Jeff Ballard, whose record as a starter stands at a staggering 20-2. In his final game of college football, Ballard will be looking to close an outstanding season on a high note.

Ballard has thrown for 12 touchdowns and 2,122 yards this year. He threw 13 touchdowns last year after he was put in the hot seat after four weeks when veteran Tye Gunn went down to an injury.

Ballard likes to hand the ball off to running backs Aaron Brown and Lonta Hobbs. They have had productive seasons between them, but are still 600 yards, and three touchdowns, short of the figures that Wolfe has posted on his own.

NIU coach, Joe Novak has used quarterbacks Phil Horvath (1,932 passing yards, 11 touchdowns) and Dan Nicholson (568 passing yards, five touchdowns) during this season. Nicholson is starting tonight and it is unknown whether Horvath can play at all due to his knee injury.

Summing Up: Wolfe is the most dangerous player on the field, but he will be closely marked by a tenacious TCU defense. If TCU achieves its game-plan to keep Wolfe quiet, the Horned Frogs should win big.

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