TCU Runs Over No. Illinois
by Mike Mitchell
TCU ran through, over and around an obviously outmatched opponent in a 37-7 Poinsettia Bowl win over Northern Illinois. Superior in every facet except the kicking game, the Horned Frogs' victory was never seriously in doubt.
They took a 6-0 lead with a touchdown on their opening possession and never looked back. A missed extra point after that initial score and two blocked punts were about the only negatives all night for TCU. One blocked punt was returned for a touchdown by the Huskies early in the fourth quarter and allowed NIU to avoid the shutout.
Garrett Wolfe, the nation's leading rusher coming into the game, was kept in check all night and held to 28 yards on 20 efforts. He was stopped for a loss or no gain on 8 runs and 1 pass reception.
Meanwhile, TCU's Lonta Hobbs rambled for 109 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Quarterback Jeff Ballard ran for three scores of 10, 1 and 6 yards.
TCU was fifth in the nation in points allowed, 4th in total yards allowed, and 4th in rushing yards allowed. On this night in San Diego, it was easy to see how they earned those lofty rankings.
It was the first bowl loss for Northern Illinois which won the 1983 California Bowl over Fullerton State and the 2004 Silicon Valley Clasic over Troy.
TCU's bowl record improved 9-13-1.