Carder seals TCU win with clutch play

The biggest play of Tank Carder’s life — and perhaps the past seven decades of TCU football — barely fazed him.

That is, until the junior linebacker let the moment sink in.

Down by two points following a 4-yard touchdown run by Montee Ball in the closing minutes of the Rose Bowl on Saturday, the Wisconsin Badgers were one play from potentially forcing overtime.

Wisconsin elected to pass on the two-point conversion attempt. And the intended receiver, tight end Jacob Pedersen, was open.

Tank to the rescue.

Carder knocked the ball down, and TCU was able to run out the clock for a 21-19 victory that capped a 13-0 season.

“It didn’t seem like that big of a play until it sunk in,” said Carder, the Mountain West Conference defensive player of the year.

“On the last play, I figured it was going to be a run …” he added. “I went to go blitz and got blocked and couldn’t get through the hold. So I just stopped, backed up, saw him (Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien) cock his arm back and I jumped, and that was the end of it.”

The pass was a curious call considering the Badgers (11-2) gained 59 of their 77 yards on the final scoring drive behind the powerful running of John Clay. Wisconsin finished with 226 rushing yards; Ball led the way with 132, and Clay added 76 in a reserve role

“Had an opportunity to get it in there, but their defender made a nice read on the quarterback’s eyes, got his hands up and blocked it,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said.

"I thought we had a guy open," Tolzien said. "You give credit to them (TCU). They batted the ball down, and that’s what good football teams do."

Added TCU coach Gary Patterson: “If you watched the film, the guy was wide open and Tank knocked it down. We were lucky Tank was in the game. … So sometimes things are just meant to be.”

Carder, who fails to fit the “built like a tank” formula at 6-foot-3, 237 pounds, was named the defensive player of the game after six tackles (three for a loss) and one sack.

And boy, what a sack.

With the Badgers driving early in the third quarter, Carder de-cleated Tolzien on a key third down that resulted in a loss of 8 yards and forced a punt.

“I felt like it changed the momentum,” Carder said.

It did. And the linebacker named Tank cemented his name in TCU lore.

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