Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Poinsetta Bowl: Boise St. vs. TCU


December 23, 2008 * 8:00 * ESPN Qualcomm Stadium * San Diego, California

Boise State ended the season as one of only two teams without a loss in the country, but that wasn’t good enough for one of the ten slots in the BCS bowls. And so the nation’s ninth ranked team is left to “settle” for a match with No. 11 TCU, in one of the better matches in a non-BCS Bowl this season.

When the Broncos Have the Ball

Led by freshman quarterback Kellen Moore, the Broncos have been averaging 39.4 points per game. Moore has been playing outstanding football with a 161.5 passer rating, which was boosted by a completion rate of 70 percent. He has played impeccably in his first season and was named a Second Team All-WAC member. Moore also has a rushing attack that is averaging 183.5 yards a game, with senior Ian Johnson and sophomore Jeremy Avery leading the way. TCU comes into the game with the second best defense in the country, and will need every unit functioning at a high level against Boise State’s top-13 offense. The Frogs won’t go easy – they have held opponents to 10 points or less eight times this season. Their chief weapon and the most important man for Boise State to account for would be defensive end Jerry Hughes. The junior was a finalist for both the 2008 Ted Hendricks Award and the Bronco Nagurski Trophy. Hughes has a nation-leading 14 sacks, and is tied for the lead in forced fumbles with six. He also has a pair of interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. The Broncos will have to find a way to shut Hughes down and keep him from making a big play. Also keep an eye on stud senior linebacker Jason Phillips.

When the Frogs Have the Ball

While the Horned Frogs aren’t as dynamic offensively as Boise State, they are still averaging 35 points a game. Sophomore quarterback Andy Dalton isn’t as effective as Moore, but he takes good care of the ball and keeps the chains moving. The Frogs’ rushing attack is 13th in the nation and while they do not have any one stud back to lead them, they are able to get the job done by spreading carries across numerous runners to great effect. That means the Bronco defensive unit will have to work hard to contain multiple runners who can be plugged in as a succession of fresh legs. Joseph Turner and Aaron Brown lead the team in overall yards. Turner is far and away the biggest scoring threat on the ground though, totaling 10 touchdowns so far this season. Boise State will try to keep pressure on Dalton and hope he makes some bad decisions with the ball. If they can get the secondary the opportunity to make plays, they can do it. Led by junior cornerback Kyle Wilson’s WAC best five interceptions, the Broncos are opportunistic on the defensive side of the ball. Wilson is also a second team All-American as a punt returner and leads the nation in punt returns for touchdowns with three.

Final Analysis
Neither team makes too many mistakes so turnovers will be at a premium. Whichever defense steps up first will likely make the big play that wins this game.

Inside the Numbers – Pass, Run & Catch

Boise St. Broncos (12-0, 8-0)

Pass: Kellen Moore – 3,264 yards, 25 TDs
Run: Ian Johnson – 738 yards, 12 TDs
Catch: Jeremy Childs – 741 yards, 7 TDs)

TCU Horned Frogs (10-2, 7-1)
Pass: Andy Dalton – 2,045 yards, 11 TDs
Run: Joseph Turner – 494 yards, 10 TDs
Catch: Jimmy Young – 926 yards, 5 TDs

The CFI Prediction: Boise St. 27, TCU 17

Photo Credit: TCU Athletics Media Relations; Boise St. University