A lot of people thought TCU would win be at least the seven points that they were favored by, in part because people were discounting Boise State's schedule and not looking at the team. Boise's schedule was weaker but the team itself
is has been a national player for most of this decade.
Boise came out with the pressure on defense and rocked Andy Dalton right from the start and the corner blitz by CB Kyle Wilson that Andy Dalton did not even see. That play set the tone for the Boise defense which brought a lot of pressure and made Andy Dalton look pedestrian. Also, the TCU rushing offense that was solid and averaged 255 yards per game which was good enough for fifth in the nation. Boise was able to stifle the rush attack to only 36 total yards, and that caused the passing game to be used more often then TCU would liked.
To take a step back Andy Dalton was primarily a game manager in 2008 and had only 11 touchdowns in comparison to his 22 this year. This year he did take a step forward, but part of that was because there were that many more weapons then he had to work with. With the Boise State defensive backs getting their hands on anything and everything which included three picks, one returned for a score, and countless tips. For some reason the offensive coordinator kept throwing the ball deep and in the middle of the field.
The one thing that TCU should have done -- easy to play arm chair QB -- is use their play making wide receiver Jeremy Kerley who is a speed receiver and is very good in space and one on one coverage. Kerley did catch 6 for 65 yards while not terrible, but he was not used to his advantage. Just take a look at his return stats in this game where he had six returns for 98 yards. For some reason he was not used once in the wildcat spot which Kerley was in often and succeeded, so not sure why he was not used there and let him create his own play.
Getting back to Dalton he did have three picks and realistically could have had two or three more that were tipped up or went through the Boise defenders. Dalton was making passes across his body and that horrible floater pass that was the final pick of the game and sealed the deal. The one great pass TCU made was an incomplete pass that was the receivers fault where the ball was caught but his knee dislodged the ball which would have been in the end zone to tie the game 17-17.
With Boise State able to stop the running game that forced TCU to third and long and forced Andy Dalton to pass which resulted in the Horned Frogs going 1-12 on third downs. During the regular season TCU was 31st in the country on third down conversions at 41 percent on the year. This made Andy Dalton become more of a passer then he has been in his career. With the running game contained and TCU being forced to pass on third downs Boise was able to bring the heat on Dalton.
I wonder if part of the reason is that the offense struggled is that TCU has co-offensive coordinators. The play calling was sloppy with minimal quick passes, misdirections, or screens to counter the Boise speed. Those plays would have drastically improved their offense ten fold.
The defense has nothing to be ashamed of they gave up only ten points and held Boise State well below their normal output. The game came down to a few plays that made the difference in the outcome. The two biggest were first the dropped pass in the end zone and then the fake punt. Had either of those gone the other way this game would have gone into over time and who knows what would happen.
Tough loss for the Mountain West as they end the bowl season with an impressive 4-1 bowl record which will be the best winning percentage by any league. TCU should be loaded next year -- as will Boise State -- and 2010 can not get here soon enough.