Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
VALERO ALAMO BOWL STORYLINES
1. TCU’s elite run defense faces its toughest test of the season when the team faces Stanford and running back Bryce Love in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28 in San Antonio. Love finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting after leading Power 5 running backs in rushing yards (1,973), rushing yards per game (164.4), yards per carry (8.3) and runs of 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards. “I don’t know if you could ask anything more of a football player,” Cardinal coach David Shaw told reporters.
2. Stanford bounced back from a loss at Washington State to win the Pac-12 North Division but fell 31-28 in the conference title game despite strong efforts from Love and sophomore quarterback K.J. Costello, who passed for 192 yards and two touchdowns. TCU closed with back-to-back wins over Texas Tech and Baylor to secure a spot in the Big 12 championship game, where it was outscored 17-0 in the second half of a 41-17 loss to Oklahoma. TCU is 5-0 against Pac-12 opponents under coach Gary Patterson, including two wins over Stanford.
3. TCU has limited opponents to 3.2 yards per carry (eighth in the nation) behind defensive ends Mat Boesen and Ben Banogu, who led the Big 12 in sacks with 11.5 and 8.5, respectively. Making their second appearance in the Alamo Bowl over the last three seasons, the Horned Frogs rallied from a 31-0 halftime deficit to defeat Oregon 47-41 in triple overtime in their last visit on Jan. 2, 2016. This year’s trip could be just as dramatic, considering that eight of TCU’s last nine bowl games have been decided by seven points or fewer.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: TCU -2.5
ABOUT STANFORD (9-4, 7-2 Pac-12): The Cardinal’s offense was fairly one-dimensional before Costello took over as the starter late in the season and finished with a total of 11 touchdowns against three interceptions. Costello’s favorite targets are wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside (six touchdowns) and tight end Dalton Schultz, an All-Pac-12 First-Team selection. Senior defensive lineman Harrison Phillips had 17 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries to lead a unit that has allowed 21.5 points per game and owns a plus-15 turnover margin, which tied for second in the nation.
ABOUT TCU (10-3, 7-2 Big 12): Senior quarterback Kenny Hill accounted for 25 touchdowns while completing 67.2 percent of his passes to lead a balanced offense that averaged 33.2 points per contest but struggled in the Big 12 title game. TCU had five All-Big 12 First-Team selections on defense, including the duo of Boesen and Banogu, linebacker Travin Howard, safety Nick Orr and cornerback Ranthony Texada. Howard’s 83 tackles, including seven for loss, have him on pace to become the first player to lead the team in stops in three consecutive seasons.