Experience carries Boise State in the end

Maybe we should have seen it coming from the start: There was TCU, a college football juggernaut this season, wound as tight as a rubber band ball and failing miserably to shake the nerves.

Maybe we should have known that the 2010 Fiesta Bowl was going to play out exactly how it did. Boise State, the more experienced team, managed to limit its mistakes and stay within itself on its way to a 17-10 win on Monday night. TCU, a team playing in its first BCS bowl game, looked incredibly nervous from the start and seemingly couldn’t get out of its own way for four quarters.

Chris Petersen’s Broncos had been there before after shocking Oklahoma in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. They knew what playing in a BCS bowl was all about and they executed that way. They were the more settled team and they parlayed patience into a 7-0 lead when TCU made the first mistake of the game when Brandyn Thompson picked off Andy Dalton and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown.

What’s interesting is that wasn’t the best Boise State can look. Kellen Moore, who statistically was the best quarterback in the nation coming into the game, wasn’t particularly crisp and an offense that is predicated on consistency and rhythm looked out of sync from the start.

But the Boise State defense was outstanding from the start while holding TCU to just 36 yards rushing and forcing three turnovers. Granted, they got some help from Horned Frog receivers who couldn’t hold onto the ball and from Dalton’s inconsistent decision-making but still, TCU couldn’t move the ball all night and that’s a testament to how underrated the Broncos’ defense was all season.

Coming into the game, everyone was trying to discredit Boise State. Their only impressive win this season came against an Oregon team that didn’t peak until after they got its ass handed to it on the smurf turf in Week 1. The Broncos also had trouble putting teams away throughout the season, which was evident in wins over Tulsa, Louisiana Tech and Nevada.

But yet, the Broncos stayed true to their game and earned a win over one of the nation’s hottest teams in TCU. Based on how good they’ve been over the past couple years under Petersen, should any of us be surprised?

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