Cheez-It Bowl gives seniors one more chance to play

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Ty Summers will finish his career as a Horned Frog in Phoenix. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto.

A TCU team that fought through injuries and offensive woes all season will get the chance to finish their season with a winning record later this month in Phoenix.

The Horned Frogs were selected as the Big 12’s representatives for the Cheez-It Bowl, where they will take on the California Golden Bears December 26 at 8:00 p.m.

It will be the team’s third postseason trip to Arizona under head coach Gary Patterson. They played in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl and 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.  

The Horned Frogs won their last two games to become bowl eligible. It will be the final game for star defensive players Ben Banogu, L.J. Collier, and Ty Summers, three players who epitomize Patterson’s eye for talent.

The team and Patterson have been driven by a desire to keep winning and give their seniors one more game, and one more chance to shine.

“We’ll try to prepare and give the Cal Bears the best opponent they can have.” (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

“The best thing about bowl games is you give your seniors an opportunity to play one more game,” Patterson said. 

They will face a Cal team that finished 7-5 this season, their best record since 2015.

“We’re very humbled and excited about being able to come West,” said Patterson. “We understand what kind of opponent we’re getting into.”

The Golden Bears have become known for their defense under second-year head-coach Justin Wilcox, who took control of the program in 2017.

They held the two best teams in the Pac-12, No. 9 Washington and No. 13 Washington State to 10 and 19 points respectively.

“I understand how they’ve been playing,” said Patterson. “They beat Washington during the season so we understand what kind of opponent we’re getting into.”

The Golden Bears also beat University of Southern California (USC) for the first time since 2003.

This will be the first-ever meeting between Cal and TCU, but not the first between the two head coaches.

Wilcox was the defensive coordinator at Boise State from 2006 to 2009 when the Broncos matched up with Patterson and the Horned Frogs multiple times.

Wilcox and his staff got the chance to visit and learn from Patterson in Fort Worth during that time and the Golden Bears head coach said he has always enjoyed watching TCU play.

“I got the chance to compete against TCU when I was at Boise State and have always had a ton of respect,” Wilcox said. “Coach Patterson has won a ton of games for a long, long time.”

L.J. Collier has been one of the best defensive linemen in the Big 12 this season. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto.

Both teams are in the top 30 for total defense in the country, foreshadowing a grind it out, punt-heavy battle in the desert.

“Any time you get into a ballgame where it’s going to be hard-hitting and it is going to be a close ballgame, everybody gets excited about it,” Patterson said. “Whether it’s high scoring or low scoring, it makes no difference.”

The game will be broadcast on ESPN.