TCU, Louisiana Tech face off in Poinsettia Bowl |

TCU, Louisiana Tech face off in Poinsettia Bowl

AP Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO (AP) – The Poinsettia Bowl between No. 16 TCU and Louisiana Tech isn’t merely a matchup of teams happy to be in a postseason game.

Tonight is a showdown of conference champions that will give the victor an eight-game winning streak to carry into 2012.

TCU (10-2), which handed Boise State its only loss, would like to have that momentum when it moves from the Mountain West to the Big 12.

The Horned Frogs had hoped to be playing in a third straight BCS bowl, but two losses prevented that from happening.

“We started slow in the beginning of the season and I told people if we could get through the early part that we’d become a better football team, and that’s kind of what we’ve become,” said coach Gary Patterson, whose Horned Frogs beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl last season. “This is one of the games that’s important for us for the simple reason that the seniors can win 47 ballgames, we have a chance to go into next season with an eight-game winning streak going into the Big 12, so there’s a lot of positives for us in this ballgame.”

With one condition, of course.

“I believe there’s no such thing as positive unless we win,” Patterson added.

TCU’s winning streak started with a 27-14 victory against San Diego State on Oct. 8 at Qualcomm Stadium, which will host the Poinsettia Bowl.

Western Athletic Conference champion Louisiana Tech (8-4), whose most famous alum is Terry Bradshaw, lost four of its first five games. The Bulldogs lost their opener by two points to Southern Mississippi, lost by one point to Houston and by six points in overtime to Mississippi State. They also had a midseason quarterback change, going from Nick Isham to Colby Cameron, who’s from Southern California.

“Kind of like us, I think they’ve grown up,” Patterson said. “They lost to some really good football teams early. I take notice on all those kind of things. I think we have our hands full from the very beginning, and I told our kids as soon as I found out who the opponent was that we had our hands full. We’re very familiar on what they can do and what we have to do to try to play this ballgame.”

TCU had hoped to play in a BCS game for the third straight year. Instead, it will make its third Poinsettia Bowl appearance since 2006.

“In a lot of ways, this is the biggest bowl game in school history,” said Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes, whose gotten the Bulldogs to just their sixth postseason game. “It will be a bit of a measuring stick for our program and where we are headed. To have a 10-2 team and be a little bit disappointed shows you where TCU is. We’re playing one of the best programs in college football. It’ll be a challenge for us but we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”

Dykes said playing in a game like this helps recruiting.

“Having the chance to play against TCU, the defending Rose Bowl champions, that’s a big deal for recruits,” Dykes said. “You tell them, ‘Hey, we’re going to go to bowl games where we get a chance to play against one of the best programs in college football. If you can’t get excited about that and you don’t want to be part of it, then we don’t want you to be a part of this team.’ ”

Cameron has thrown for 1,403 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wide receiver Quinton Patton has 74 catches for 1,135 yards and 10 touchdowns.

TCU quarterback Casey Pachall, who replaced Andy Dalton, is chasing TCU’s single-season records for completions, completion percentage, yards passing and touchdown passes. He has 2,715 yards and 24 touchdowns.