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Mountain West football's best team ever: 2014 Boise State vs. 2011 TCU

The last matchup of the first round pits two acclaimed combatants with a hotly contested history against each other.

Can Jay Ajayi run through another of TCU's top-flight defenses?
Can Jay Ajayi run through another of TCU's top-flight defenses?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Boise State Broncos and the TCU Horned Frogs only shared the Mountain West stage for one year, but their lone game as conference foes remains one to remember. Memorable as it is, though, it is also indicative of the other taut contests between the two: The four games have been decided by a grand total of 12 points and, as you might expect, both the Broncos and Frogs have won two each.

Will last year's Fiesta Bowl champions be able to do what their predecessors could not, though? Both teams have had very strong representation in the first round of our tournament, but only one will be left standing.

Tale of the tape

Overall record: 2014 Boise State - 12-2 (8-1 MWC); 2011 TCU - 11-2 (2-0)

Best wins: 2014 Boise State - vs. Arizona, 38-30 (Fiesta Bowl); 2011 TCU - @ Boise State, 36-35

Worst loss: 2014 Boise State - @ Air Force, 28-14; 2011 TCU - vs. SMU, 40-33

Seasons summarized in a sentence: The 2014 Broncos came into the season with New Year's bowl expectations and didn't disappoint, battling through a very competitive Mountain division and another win in Glendale. The 2011 Horned Frogs played themselves to a Mountain West three-peat and played the spoiler to Boise State's national title aspirations for good measure.

Fun fact: Despite having the advantage in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passing yards, Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick's overall rating in 2014 is actually a touch lower than that of Casey Pachall in 2011 (157.97 against 157.19).

Memorable players

Boise State: Running back Jay Ajayi unlocked the power of pickle juice and subsequently torched the Mountain West to the tune of 2,358 yards from scrimmage, second-best in the FBS, and 32 touchdowns, the best such total in the nation. Defensive backs Darian Thompson and Donte Deayon finished among the FBS leaders in interceptions with seven and six, respectively, while linebacker Kamalei Correa earned twelve sacks and 19 1/2 tackles for loss.

TCU: Linebacker Tank Carder followed fellow Frog Jerry Hughes in becoming the second player to win back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards, racking up 70 tackles and three interceptions (including two for touchdowns). Casey Pachall acquitted himself well upon assuming the starting quarterback role, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. Defensive lineman Stansly Maponga earned all-MWC honors after recording nine sacks and forcing five fumbles, and wide receiver Josh Boyce did the same by leading the conference in receiving yards.