Cheez-It Bowl Quick Facts:
- The Cheez-It Bowl was first introduced as the Copper Bowl in 1989.
- This Bowl has rebranded four times; changed to Insight Bowl in 1997, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in 2012, Cactus Bowl in 2015 and CheezIt Bowl in 2018.
- Cal and TCU will play in the inagural Cheez-It Bowl.
- Will be the first time ever TCU and Cal will meet in a football game.
- Cal has two victories in this Bowl series, 1990 against Wyoming and 2003 against Virginia Tech.
- Notable players to be named MVP of this Bowl are Le’Veon Bell in 2012, Aaron Rodgers in 2003 and Drew Bledsoe in 1992.
- In this Bowl’s 29-year-history, it has never left the state of Arizona.
Full Scouting Report:
The Big-12 conference is famous for two things, the schools have high-scoring offenses and atrocious, soft-butter defenses. Head coach Gary Patterson stands tall above the narrative of weak defensive play. He is one of the most top-notch defensive minds in the entire sport of football. He consistently coaches the Horned Frogs to the top of national defensive rankings. TCU went on an elite run from 2008-10 where the team ranked No. 2, No. 1 and No. 1 in overall defense for consecutive years.
This year’s Horned Frogs team is not nearly as dangerous as the 13-0 Rose Bowl victory squad of 2010, or even the 2017 Frogs who got beat down by now NFL superstar Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. TCU is down from 11 wins and to 6 this year, barely making them bowl eligible. Despite the 6-6 record, TCU still has an elite defense, holding opposing offenses to 24 points-per-games and ranking 26th overall.
TCU met unfortunate scheduling fate in 2018, as they had to face Ohio State and Oklahoma, the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked offenses in the NCAA. The quarterbacks leading their offense were Heisman finalists, including one of them the outright winner.
In Week 3, the Horned Frogs met Ohio State at the neutral site of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Buckeyes gained 526 total offensive yards and scored 33 points in their victory over TCU. Patterson’s Horned Frogs held OSU to 13 first-half points, but in the second half had no answers for Dwayne Haskins, allowing him to throw for two touchdowns and rush for one to seal their loss.
In the Week 9 Big-12 conference match-up between Oklahoma and TCU, the Sooners dropped 52 points, the most allowed in a game by the Horned Frogs since 2016. Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray threw four touchdowns and the offense rushed for 323 yards. TCU defense only registered one sack and zero turnovers against Oklahoma.
Defensive Coordinators: Chad Glasgow but Gary Patterson has his hand on the defense
Season Recap: 6-6 (4-5 conference)
Best Win: Week 13 defeated Oklahoma State 31-24 to become bowl eligible
Worst Loss: Week 11 lost to #7 West Virginia 47-10
Pass Defense: 56 % average completion percentage, 202 passing yards allowed per game and 17 passing touchdowns scored
Rush Defense: 142 rushing yards allowed per game, 3.6 yards per attempt and 18 touchdowns scored
Total Defense: 30 sacks, 7 interceptions, 9 fumble recoveries, 344 total yards offense allowed per game, 3-13 on third downs
Six Impacts players to watch:
- Senior defensive end Ben Bangou leads TCU with 7.5 sacks on the year and has multiple games with two sacks. He also leads the team in TFLs with 17.5, good enough for 13th most in the country. Bangou is an excellent defensive end in Pattersons’ scheme using four D-linemen. He explodes off the snap of the ball and relentlessly chases down ball carriers in the backfield. Bangou has recorded 19 sacks and 44 TFLS in his college football career. He’s been a Big-12 stand-out defender since he transferred from the University of Louisiana Monroe in 2015.
- The defensive end opposite of Bangou is L.J. Collier. The former three-star recruit has lived in opposing backfields all season. His 9.5 TFLs and 5 sacks are second on the team. Collier’s play style compliments Bangou’s well because he plays with an incredible amount of power in his 6-foot-4-inch frame.
- Outside Linebacker Jawuan Johnson is a graduate transfer from Northern Illinois University. He was named third-team all-MAC in 2017 after recording 98 tackles and 18 TFLs. He has torn it up on the field at TCU his last year of college football eligibility. Johnson has similar production in his first year at TCU compared to his last year at NIU. He has 65 tackles and 4.5 TFLs, as well as a sack and fumble recovery.
- Middle linebacker Arico Evans splits time at safety, rotating out of the tackle box into coverage when the defensive play design calls for it. His versatility has let him lead the team in total tackles with 75. Evans has a very technical play style, he hardly misses when he wraps up on his tackles. This year he also proved he can make negative plays, registering a season-high 1.5 sacks and 3.5 TFLs.
- Strong safety Ridwan Issahaku has filled up the stat sheet. Issahaku is second in tackles with 74, has 2 interceptions, 2 TFLs and 2 sacks. He’s a real swiss army knife on the back end. In 41 career games, Issahaku has exceeded 200 tackles. The veteran DB has enough game experience playing in the pass-happy Big-12 to recognize passing concepts and routes before they develop, making him a dangerous opponent.
- The best cornerback on TCU is Jeff Gladney. The redshirt junior has been a regular contributor since 2016. This year he has 12 passes break-ups and 2 interceptions. He uses his short-area quickness to stay step-by-step with his receiver and makes plays on the ball with his long arms. Gladney is also not afraid to come up and tackle running backs, he leads all cornerbacks with 38 tackles.