2010 Fiesta Bowl - TCU vs. Boise State
TCU DE Jerry Hughes & Boise State QB Kellen Moore
TCU DE Jerry Hughes & Boise State QB Kellen Moore
Posted Dec 30, 2009

The CFN 2010 Fiesta Bowl Preview - TCU vs. Boise State

2010 Fiesta Bowl

Boise State (13-0) vs. TCU (12-0)

Glendale, AZ, Jan. 4, 8 pm, Fox

Scroll Down For Bowl Histories & Best Moments

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Team Pages and 2009 Season
TCUBoise State 


- 2009 CFN Fiesta Bowl Preview
- 2008 CFN Fiesta Bowl Preview
- 2007 CFN Fiesta Bowl Preview
National Rankings
4th Total Offense 8th
1st Total Defense 13th
4th Scoring Offense 1st
6th Scoring Defense 15th
5th Rushing Offense 20th
3rd Run Defense 40th
67th Passing Offense 30th
4th Passing Defense 13th
41stt Turnover Margin 2nd
Position Ratings
relative to each other
T 5 highest
1 lowest
4.5 Quarterbacks 5
4 RBs 4
4 Receivers 3.5
4.5 O Line 4
5 D Line 4
4.5 Linebackers 4
5 Secondary 4.5
5 Spec Teams 5
5 Coaching 5
Fiesta Bowl History
2009 Texas 24, Ohio State 21
2008 West Virginia 48, Oklahoma 28
2007 Boise St 43, Oklahoma 42 OT
2006 Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 20
2005 Utah 35, Pitt 7
2004 Ohio State 35, Kansas State 28
2003 Ohio State 31, Miami 24 2OT
2002 Oregon 38, Colorado 16
2001 Oregon State 41, Notre Dame 9
2000 Nebraska 31, Tennessee 21
1999 Tennessee 23, Florida State 16
1997 (Dec.) Kansas State 35, Syracuse 18
1997 (Jan.) Penn State 38, Texas 15
1996 Nebraska 62, Florida 24
1995 Colorado 41, Notre Dame 24
1994 Arizona 29, Miami 0
1993 Syracuse 26, Colorado 22
1992 Penn State 42, Tennessee 17
1991 Louisville 34, Alabama 7
1990 Florida State 41, Nebraska 17
1989 Notre Dame 34, West Virginia 21
1988 Florida State 31, Nebraska 28
1987 Penn State 14, Miami 10
1986 Michigan 27, Nebraska 23
1985 UCLA 39, Miami 37
1984 Ohio State 28, Pitt 23
1983 Arizona State 32, Oklahoma 21
1982 Penn State 26, USC 10
1980 Penn State 31, Ohio State 19
1979 Pitt 16, Arizona 10
1978 Arkansas 10, UCLA 10
1977 Penn State 42, Arizona State 30
1976 Oklahoma 41, Wyoming 7
1975 Arizona State 17, Nebraska 14
1974 Oklahoma State 16, BYU 6
1973 Arizona State 28, Pitt 7
1972 Arizona State 49, Missouri 35
1971 Arizona State 45, Florida St 38

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the world would be a much better place of TCU played Cincinnati in a 3 vs. 4 matchup and if Boise State got its shot against Florida, but these two programs don't really have to prove themselves to anyone. Their consistent greatness makes this a matchup of superpowers without the need to point out that they don't play in BCS conferences.

For all the whining and grandstanding done by the Mountain West about how unfair the BCS is, the system almost got TCU into the national championship. Had Pitt not choked away a late lead to Cincinnati and had Hunter Lawrence's field goal to give Texas the Big 12 title gone a wee bit to the left (and/or if the Colt McCoy had held on to the ball a half-second longer), it would be an Alabama vs. TCU BCS Championship. The Horned Frogs are a missed field goal against Utah in 2008 away from being on a 20-game winning streak, and currently, they're on a 26-game run of not losing to a team that didn't end up in the BCS.

It's not just that the Horned Frogs are 12-0 and worthy of playing for the national title, it's that they were a dominant 12-0 and really and truly are worthy of playing for the national title. There were two tight battles beating Clemson in Death Valley 14-10 and Air Force 20-17, but over the last seven games, TCU won by a combined score of 329 to 73, or an average of 47 to 10. No one has come closer than 27 points over the stretch, and the team that did, Utah, only got its points late in a blowout. Yes, the Utah team that beat Cal in the Poinsettia Bowl got destroyed 55-28 by TCU, and the BYU team that thumped Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl got destroyed 38-7 … at home.

Of course, one of TCU's big wins on the current run was against Boise State in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, and that was the only Bronco loss in the last 26 games. While the Horned Frogs were deep in the national title chase all season long, Boise State was dismissed because it played in the WAC. No one bothered to use enough brain power to figure out if BSU was a great team that got fat in a horrendous conference, or if it was great team that just so happened to be in a horrendous conference.

For some reason, it's as if the Bronco win over Oregon didn't exist. That was a jacked up Duck team that was looking to make a huge statement to start the season, and it got pantsed 19-8 and gained just 21 yards rushing. A week later, Oregon cranked out 356 yards of total offense in a 38-36 win over Purdue, and on the year, the Duck attack finished averaging 236 rushing yards per game, sixth in the nation, and averaged 37.7 points per game, seventh in the nation. This is an offense that scored 30 or more points in every game by two, 40 or more points in seven games, but it was totally and completely shut down by the Broncos. Spin it however you want to (the offense wasn't jelled, Boise State was at home, etc.), but Boise State whacked the Pac 10 champion.

Only one team, Tulsa, came closer than ten points of beating the Broncos, and that was a late-rally fluke sort of thing. Boise State led the nation in scoring offense, was never really threatened in any of the 13 games, and it came up with its fourth unbeaten regular season in six years and second in a row. The program is doing something right.

And yes, it's unfortunate that these two teams don't get to play someone else. As far as national perception is concerned, the winner will have simply beaten a non-BCS team, while the loser's mountain to climb to BCS respectability will that might tougher to climb the next time around. So take this game for what it'll probably be: the best bowl matchup of the 2009-2010 season.

Players to Watch
: On the short list of the best players who weren't in the Heisman chase this year were Boise State QB Kellen Moore and TCU DE Jerry Hughes, and it could be argued that they were the two best players at their respective positions this season.

Wait, Kellen Moore?! The best quarterback in America? He might not have the bulk numbers of Houston's Case Keenum, but he was every bit the leader that Colt McCoy was and had a far better season than Tim Tebow. The Bronco sophomore led the nation in passing efficiency and put together a flawless campaign completing 65% of his throws for 3,325 yards and 39 touchdowns with just three interceptions. Against the five bowl teams the Broncos played, Moore threw 17 touchdowns and no interceptions, and whenever there was even a hint of the momentum of a game turning the wrong way. He's a peerless decision maker and is great at getting the ball out of his hands in a hurry, which will be a must against Hughes and the fearsome TCU pass rush.

Hughes finished seventh in the nation with 11.5 sacks, and while his great season didn't always translate to the stat sheet, he saved some of his best games for the biggest moments. He destroyed Utah with eight tackles, a sack, and 3.5 tackles for loss with three quarterback hurries. BYU's Max Hall struggled under the constant pressure, and Hughes roared against Virginia with 11 sacks. In last year's game against the Broncos, Hughes was kept in check for the most part, but with the game on the line, he came up with the big sack needed for the win.

Moore and Hughes might be the headliners, but TCU's Andy Dalton is due to become a star, but he plays second fiddle to the defense. The junior quarterback was fourth in the nation in passing efficiency throwing for 22 touchdowns while spreading out five interceptions, and he has also been a nice runner with 522 yards and three touchdowns on the year. He's a calm, cool leader who gets the ball to his receivers in places where they can run really, really far, and while he has a decent deep arm, his game is about keeping the chains moving and getting everyone involved. The Boise State safeties have to worry about the speedy TCU receivers, and if Dalton sees an opening, he'll take off.

Boise State will win if ... the offensive line can keep Moore upright and can bully the Horned Frog defensive front. The Boise State offensive line leads the nation in sacks allowed, giving up just five on the year with Oregon's Kenny Rowe coming up with two in the season opener. Part of the success has come from Moore and his quick trigger, part of the reason is the lack of pass rushing talent in the MAC, and part of the reason is that the O line really is good. Moore is mobile, but he's far better when he doesn't have to make plays on the move. The Bronco line also has to do a little bit of smashmouth against the tough TCU defensive front. Utah tried that, to no effect, but that doesn't mean that Boise State can abandon the run. The 1-2 combination of the speedy Jeremy Avery and the tough Doug Martin have to be established early on. Last year the Broncos ran for just 28 yards against the Horned Frogs, and if there are similar problems getting the ground game going, this won't be pretty.

TCU will win if ... the secondary can erase Titus Young. With star target Austin Pettis gimpy at best, if he can play at all, Moore will have to focus on getting Young the ball in a variety of ways to open up the TCU defense a little bit. If the Boise State passing game comes down to swing passes to the running backs, the Horned Frogs will pounce with its tremendous team speed. Defensively, Boise State is incredibly active at making things happen in the backfield, but the Oregon win aside, the defensive front can be shoved around a bit. Fresno State's Ryan Mathews gashed the Bronco front seven getting wide open spaces to fly through. The only other team on the slate with a strong running game was Nevada, and it came up with 242 yards with Vai Taua tearing off 160 yards and averaging 6.7 yards per carry. TCU's read-option running game isn't as effective as Nevada's Pistol attack, but it has enough weapons to balance out the offense.

What will happen: TCU will make a statement. Boise State is good and deserved to be in the BCS without a question, but this is a special Horned Frog team that will come up with over 200 yards rushing and will harass Moore all game long. Boise State won't be able to power the ball like it'll want to early on, and after getting down early, it'll have to start bombing away. With Young banged up, and with Hughes and company able to pin their ears back, TCU will make it tough for the Bronco offense to find any consistency.

CFN Prediction: TCU 34 … Boise State 17 ... Line: TCU -7

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Best Bronco Bowl Moment: Is there really any debate? Boise State arguably delivered the most memorable and thrilling performance in bowl history in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, a 43-42 upset of Oklahoma in overtime. A frequent participant in the local Humanitarian Bowl, the Broncos took their inventive brand of football on the road, winning on a Statue of Liberty two-pointer that'll forever be a part of sports lore.

Best Horned Frog Bowl Moment: Generations before the current Frogs were even out of diapers, TCU was winning Southwest and national titles in the 1930s with All-Americans, such as Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien. O'Brien's 1938 TCU team capped off a perfect season with a 15-7 Sugar Bowl victory over then- No. 5 Carnegie Tech.
Boise State Bowl History (5-4)
2008 Poinsettia TCU 17, Boise State 16
2007 Hawaii East Carolina 41, Boise State 38
2006 Fiesta Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 OT
2005 MPC Computers Boston College 27, Boise State 21
2004 Liberty Louisville 44, Boise State 40
2003 Fort Worth Boise State 34, TCU 31
2002 Humanitarian Boise State 34, Iowa State 16
2000 Humanitarian Boise State 38, Texas-El Paso 23
1999 Humanitarian Boise State 34, Louisville 31
1971 Camellia Boise State 32, Chico State 28
TCU Bowl History (11-13-1)
2008 Poinsettia TCU 17, Boise State 16
2007 Texas TCU 20, Houston 13
2006 Poinsettia TCU 37, No Illinois 7
2005 Houston TCU 27, Iowa State 24
2003 Fort Worth Boise St 34, TCU 31
2002 Liberty TCU 17, Colorado St 3
2001 Galleryfurniture Texas A&M 28, TCU 9
2000 Mobile Alabama So Miss 28, TCU 21
1999 Mobile Alabama TCU 28, East Carolina 14
1998 Sun TCU 28, USC 19
1994 Independence Virginia 20, TCU 10
1984 Bluebonnet West Virginia 31, TCU 14
1965 Sun UTEP 13, TCU 12
1959 Bluebonnet Clemson 23, TCU 7
1958 Cotton TCU 0, Air Force 0
1956 Cotton TCU 28, Syracuse 27
1955 Cotton Mississippi 14, TCU 13
1951 Cotton Kentucky 20, TCU 7
1947 Delta Mississippi 13, TCU 9
1944 Cotton Oklahoma State 34, TCU 0
1941 Orange Georgia 40, TCU 26
1938 Sugar TCU 15, Carnegie Mellon 7
1936 Cotton TCU 16, Marquette 6
1935 Sugar TCU 3, LSU 2
1920 Fort Worth Classic Centre 63, TCU 7