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Alamo Bowl: Can TCU's tough run defense contain Stanford star Bryce Love?

Stanford RB Bryce Love (20) is 20 yards shy of reaching 2,000 yards rushing for the season. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Alamo Bowl
No. 13 Stanford (9-3) vs. No. 15 TCU (10-3)
Dec. 28, 9 p.m. ET, San Antonio, Texas (ESPN)
TCU -3, O/U: 49

HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE

Stanford: After a 1-2 start, Stanford came back and won the Pac-12 North. The Cardinal rebounded from those two losses with a five-game winning streak. The team’s biggest win of the year came Nov. 9 against Washington. The Huskies were ranked No. 9 at the time, but the Cardinal, behind three touchdowns from RB Bryce Love, pulled off the upset. A win over Cal and Washington’s win over Washington State gave Stanford the division title. However, the Cardinal lost to USC 31-28 in the Pac-12 title game.

TCU: TCU jumped out to a 7-0 start, moving all the way up to No. 4 in the process, but the undefeated streak came to an end at the hands of Iowa State on Oct. 28. From there, the Horned Frogs won three of their last four to earn a place in the Big 12 championship game. In the title game, TCU had a chance to play Oklahoma for the second time in a month. OU won the first matchup 38-20. With a College Football Playoff berth on the line, the Sooners took care of the Horned Frogs once again, this time with a 41-17 final score.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bryce Love, RB, Stanford: Love became the fourth Stanford player to finish as the Heisman runner-up since 2009, joining Toby Gerhart, Andrew Luck (twice) and Christian McCaffrey. He has had a remarkable season and needs just 27 yards to reach 2,000 yards on the year. Love, who rushed for 100 yards in all but one game he played in, has 17 touchdowns and is averaging 8.3 yards per carry despite dealing with a nagging ankle injury for much of the year.

TCU defensive end Mat Boesen (9) leads the Big 12 in sacks. His teammate, Ben Banogu, is second. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade, File)

Mat Boesen and Ben Banogu, DE, TCU: Boesen and Banogu, both first-team All-Big 12 selections, have become one of the top pass-rushing duos in the country this season. Boesen leads the way with 57 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks while Banogu enters the bowl with 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Banogu, a transfer from Louisiana-Monroe, was the Big 12’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: This is an awesome matchup, isn’t it? It’s one of the first that features two ranked teams this bowl season and it will be a treat to see Love and the Stanford offensive line go to battle against TCU’s defense, which enters the bowl game ranked No. 4 nationally in rushing defense (99.8 yards per game) and No. 19 in total defense (328.5 ypg). And it could be the last time you see Love play. There’s he could decide to turn pro after the game instead of returning for his senior year.

WHAT’S ON THE LINE: TCU can win its tenth bowl game under Gary Patterson (who is 9-6 in bowls) and reach 11 wins in a season for the tenth time in his 17 seasons as head coach. For Stanford, it can extend its bowl game winning streak to four while reaching double-digit wins for the sixth time in seven seasons under David Shaw.

With a win in the Alamo Bowl, Stanford coach David Shaw, left, can reach double digit wins for the sixth time in his seven seasons as head coach. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

PREDICTIONS

Nick: Stanford 20, TCU 19
Sam: Stanford 28, TCU 23

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!