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2008 Poinsettia Bowl Preview

#11 Boise State (12-0, 8-0; WAC) vs. #12 Texas Christian (10-2, 7-1; MWC)

December 23rd, 2008 @ 8:00 PM (EST) – ESPN – San Diego, California

The Poinsettia Bowl is all of four years old and it is hosting a matchup of two teams ranked in the top 12? Talk about luck of the draw! This game came together because the bowl has a clause which states that if there aren’t enough bowl-eligible Pac Ten teams, then they pick from the WAC’s bowl eligible teams. Much to the WAC and Boise State’s credit, they jumped on the chance to play against a top opponent instead of staying home and playing on the Smurf Turf against middling Maryland. Boise State ran through their schedule and will have a chip on their shoulder because of their exclusion from the BCS. Meanwhile, TCU’s only two losses came against Oklahoma and Utah and the Horned Frogs will look to replicate their 2006 bowl trip to San Diego, which resulted in a 37-7 victory.

Boise State has become the dominant force in the Western Athletic Conference. The Broncos are undefeated for the third time since 2004, thanks to a dangerous and varied offensive attack. The Broncos haven’t lost at home on the Smurf Turf in what seems like eons (it was actually the 2005 Humanitarian Bowl and their last regular season loss was in 2001) and they’re most famous for their shocking and captivating win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl two years ago. This season, Boise State has only given up over 16 points twice and their average margin of victory is 39-12. That’s dominating. Where many of the questions surrounding Boise State come from and the likely reason for their exclusion from the BCS is their Strength of Schedule rating, which was number 79 out of 120 teams in Division 1-A football.

TCU, on the other hand, played in a much more difficult conference and ran into mighty Oklahoma in their non-conference schedule. As a matter of comparison, TCU played the 42nd toughest schedule in the country. TCU’s strength is unquestionably their defense. The only team to score more than 14 points on the Horned Frogs all season was Oklahoma, who was held to their season low of 35. Included in that impressive statistic is a 13 point output by Utah, a 14 point output by Stanford, a 10 point output by Air Force, and a 7 point output by BYU! That’s an average of only 11 points per game against some very talented offensive teams. Meanwhile, TCU’s offense is certainly not nearly as explosive as Boise State but they have put up plenty of points this year, though excellent field position from their defense certainly has to factor in.

Another fun part of this game is that both teams are completely unknown to each other. They played no common opponents and this game is a contrast of styles. Boise State has flash and panache while TCU simply hits you in the mouth. However, one of the most quoted rules of football is that ‘defense wins championships’ and TCU clearly has the advantage here. Boise State will have to reach deep into their bag of tricks to score on the Horned Frogs and I expect TCU’s offense to take advantage of good field position that their defense will provide. What about Boise State’s defense, allowing only 12 points per game? Well, their two toughest tests came on the road this year and they allowed 32 points to Oregon and 34 to Nevada. They’re a completely different team away from the comfort of the Smurf Turf. I fully expect that TCU’s offense will be able to move the ball against the Broncos and the Horned Frogs will emerge victorious and ruin Boise State’s perfect season and earn their second top ten finish in four years.

Poinsettia Bowl Pick: TCU 27 - Boise State 20


by Matt Baxendell Staff Writer

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