About time I get to doing this preview instead of posting about the uniforms, Time Warner Cable disputes (which has been solved), or how close these two teams are statistically. Or complaining about how these teams do not get to matchup against their AQ brethren. Two undefeated teams is a rarity outside of the title game (a playoff would solve this) and it is time the schools er... fans to stop complaining about not playing an AQ since both of these schools truly belong among the BCS schools, and not just on a one game basis but week in and week out.
This will be third matchup since 2002 between the schools in bowl matchups and each school has won a game. The 2008 Poinsettia Bowl brings us the best insight in what to expect in Monday nights matchup. Going back five years the two schools have a record of 56-8 by Boise State while TCU is 61-10 with Boise winning 4 conference titles and TCU winning two.
TCU is always known for their defense with coach Gary Patterson's philosophy to put his best and fastest athletes on defense. Defensive end Jerry Hughes who is a two-time All-American came to TCU as a running back and was said as much by the staff, but when he went to his locker on opening day he had his current jersey number of 98. The current defense has suffocated opponents with a 12.2 points per game, but to look even deeper when TCU played high scoring offenses they typically hold them well under their average. BYU which averages 35.5 per game only scored 7, Clemson averages 31.2 and managed only 10, Air Force averages 29.7 and scored only 17. The only team to score at their average was Utah who scores 29 and scored 28, however TCU used their defense to get short fields to along with their potent offense to score 52 points.
Boise has the same scenario with their defense shutting down teams that have a good offense, but the quality opponents have not been as high as TCU. In saying that Boise is really good who they play regardless of their strength of schedule.
To be blunt the game will come down to if Boise State can run the ball upon the nearly immovable force in TCU's rush defense. That sounds too simple, but if TCU can force Boise to be one-dimensional in the pass game this will allow TCU to use their speed and then blitz all out. However, Boise and Chris Peterson is smart enough to run the ball from the beginning to keep TCU off guard and look for Boise to use misdirection and screen passes to counter the speed of the TCU defense.
By no means is Boise State slow or have a poor defense, but the main concern for Boise State is who to stop when TCU is running the ball. TCU has a diverse group of backs with not a single super star runner. They have four players who average 43 yards per game and each also average at least 5.2 per carry. Boise will also need to watch out for WR/KR Jeremy Kerley who is a stud return man, runs the ball in end arounds, as well as plays the wildcat position on designed runs. He is a play maker and needs to be watched at all times as he is able to make big plays any time he touches the ball.
Quarterback TCU has experienced Andy Dalton who has started the past two years and had some significant playing time as a freshman. This is by far his best year as he was asked to manage game last year, but this year he has been able to have an open play book and sling the ball around. Dalton also doubled his touchdown out from 11 to 22, and it also helps to have Jeremy Kerley, Jimmy Young, and their deep threat Antonio Hicks. Boise will have to pick their poison in what to try to stop. The one weakness that TCU has is that they do fumble the ball more then the other great teams this year, so if Boise can force fumbles or turnovers that could be the key in this game.
Boise itself has a great offense with an explosive and experienced quarterback in Kellen Moore who is only a sophomore with only one loss in his career. This year Moore has 39 touchdowns to three picks, and in news that broke today is that TCU is going to miss Rafael Priest who is out with an ankle sprain. Look for Moore to possibly look to pass in his direction. The offense may need to rely on their rushing attack behind Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin. The two have combined for over 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns. The reason the running game which will need to be employed more -- and against the best rush defense in the nation -- is that Bronco wide receiver Austin Pettis has been hurt and is said to play, but the amount is in question.
Also, the Broncos are starting a first time right tackle in Brenel Myers who is making his first start and will be going up against All-American Jerry Hughes; so that is a matchup to keep an eye on. The Bronco offense should not fall apart because of one or two injuries, but that could be the factor which gives TCU an edge in this game.
Boise does have an advantage that some of these players and most of the coaching staff have been to a BCS bowl game. While TCU has not been to a BCS bowl game, they have been to play big time games at Oklahoma and Texas so the atmosphere should not be that big of a difference for TCU. Typically projections are not made here, but an exception will be made. I think the TCU defense will be the difference in stopping Boise State, but this game will be close like last year and if a team gets over 28 points I would be surprised.
Predicted Score: TCU 21 Boise State 17