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.

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TCU fails to prove that they deserved a crack at a national title

I wanted TCU to be successfully – I really did. I kept waiting for its high-powered offense to settle in and start lighting up the scoreboard like it had all season, and for the Frogs to make a definitive statement on national television that they deserved to at least be in the national title discussion.

But it never happened.

TCU’s 17-10 loss to Boise State in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl left little doubt that Glendale was all the Frogs deserved this year. Their No. 1 rated defense was good, but not great as Kellen Moore and the Broncos’ offense routinely moved the ball into TCU territory. Andy Dalton looked nervous the entire night and the same could be said for his offensive line and receivers.

The Frogs failed on many levels last night. They failed to move the ball, they failed to prove that they deserved better and they failed to entertain. I was one of the many who watched them dismantle Utah earlier in the year and think to myself, “Damn, this team is special. This team has something and it can contend with the big boys in the SEC, Big 12, etc.”

But they can’t, or at least, not based on what they showed last night. Special teams score more than 10 points in BCS bowl games when they averaged 35-plus during the regular season. Special teams have quarterbacks that can consistently throw the ball vertical with success. Special teams have receivers that can make plays and make routine catches in crunch time.

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2010 BCS Bowl Preview: 5 Things to Watch for in the Fiesta Bowl

One of the more intriguing matchups of the 2009-2010 bowl season takes place in Glendale, Arizona when No. 4 TCU takes on No. 6 Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl on January 4. As part of our 2010 BCS Bowl Preview, here are five things to watch for in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.

1. The most controversial matchup of the bowl season
The TCU-Boise State matchup represents everything that’s wrong with the current BCS system. Instead of these two teams having the opportunity to prove themselves against BCS conference teams, the Horned Frogs and Broncos will play each other…again. These same two teams squared off last year in the Poinsettia Bowl and while it was a tightly contested game, true college fans would rather see how TCU and Boise would fair against a program like Florida or Georgia Tech. Instead, neither team will be able to prove much, which is exactly how the BCS wants it. Nevertheless, this is an exciting matchup that comes fully stocked with plenty of intrigue and drama associated with the game.

2. TCU’s No. 1 defense vs. Boise’s No. 1 scoring offense
It doesn’t get any better then when the No. 1 defense in the country gets to take on the No. 1 scoring offense. Along with being first in the nation in total defense, the Horned Frogs have the sixth best scoring defense, the third best run defense and the fourth best pass defense. Thanks to Jerry Hughes, Daryl Washington, Tank Carder and a host of others, TCU arguably has the fastest and most aggressive defense in the nation. But don’t expect the Broncos to cower to the Frogs’ dominant defense. Led by quarterback Kellen Moore, Boise ranks first in scoring, 20th in rushing and 30th in passing. They average over 44 points per game, are No. 1 in sacks allowed and 8th in total offense. But if there was one thing they struggle with, it’s red zone efficiency. Thanks to their spread offense, Boise can score quickly with big plays. But the closer they get to the end zone, the harder it becomes for them to score because they lack a power running game. Can Boise improve in that area in order to beat TCU?

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The Official Fiesta Bowl Smack Talk Thread: Boise State vs. TCU

In one of the more anticipated matchups of the 2009-2010 bowl season, the Boise State Broncos will take on the TCU Horned Frogs in the Fiesta Bowl this year. In order to get you ready for a game, here’s a quick glance at the matchup, key stats and more.

2010 Fiesta Bowl Game Information
Matchup: Boise State vs. TCU
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium
Kickoff: 8PM ET
Odds: TCU –7

Key Stats:
The Horned Frogs come into this game as one of the more accomplished teams in college football this season. Led by quarterback Andy Dalton, TCU ranks fourth in total offense, fourth in scoring offense and fifth in rushing offense. The Horned Frogs also have the top defense in the nation, rank third in run defense and third in pass defense. As if they don’t dominate enough statistical categories, the Frogs also have the best kickoff return unit in the country.

Of course, Boise State is certainly no push over when it comes to rankings this season. The Broncos have the eighth best offense in the nation and rank No. 1 in scoring while averaging over 44 points a game. They’re balanced attack is led by quarterback Kellen Moore and running back Jeremy Avery, who have paved the way for the 20th best rushing and 30th best passing offense in college football. Defensively, Boise ranks 13th in total defense, 40th against the run and 13th in pass defense. The Broncos have also allowed the fewest sacks of any team in college football this season.

The Bottom Line:
This is the most controversial matchup of the bowl season considering both of these teams would rather play BCS opponents in order to prove themselves. Plus, they already met in the Poinsettia Bowl last year, so this is a matchup college football fans have already seen. That said, this could also turn out to be the best bowl game of the year outside of the national title game. Will Moore lead Boise State to an upset win, or will TCU’s No. 1 ranked defense put the clamps down on the Broncos’ potent offense again this year?

Let the smack talk begin:

Who will win the 2010 Fiesta Bowl?
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Mandel: Ranking the Bowls 1-34

SI.com’s Stewart Mandel recently ranked all 34 bowl games.

Here are his top 5:

1) BCS National Championship Game (Jan. 7): Alabama (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0). It’s the first-ever matchup of two 13-0 teams. Colt McCoy. Mark Ingram. Rolando McClain. Sergio Kindle. Yeah, I’m thinking you might want to tune in.

2) Sugar (Jan. 1): Cincinnati (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1). It’s spread vs. spread, Tim Tebow vs. Tony Pike, Mardy Gilyard vs. Joe Haden. It may be a letdown game for the Gators, but it should still be entertaining.

3) Fiesta (Jan. 4): TCU (12-0) vs. Boise State (13-0). Enough with the outrage, people: You know you’re going to watch. The nation’s No. 1 passer, Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore, goes up against the nation’s top-ranked defense.

4) Rose (Jan. 1): Ohio State (10-2) vs. Oregon (10-2). Dangerous dual-threat star Jeremiah Masoli is what Terrelle Pryor was supposed to be. But the Buckeyes present the toughest defense the Ducks have faced since Boise.

5) Orange (Jan. 5): Georgia Tech (11-2) vs. Iowa (10-2). You remember the Hawkeyes. They love low scores and dramatic finishes. With a month to prepare, can Pat Angerer, Tyler Sash and Co. stifle Josh Nesbitt and the triple-option?

That’s how I would have my top 5, although the Fiesta and Sugar bowls might be interchangeable. I love watching TCU’s defense play and I’m intrigued about how Gary Patterson will game plan to stop Boise’s offense. That said, I’m interested to see how Cincinnati responds after Brian Kelly ditched them for Notre Dame.

I know Georgia Tech’s triple-option is exciting to watch and Iowa does have a solid front seven, but that matchup just doesn’t have the same appeal as the other four. Maybe it’ll wind up being the best BCS game of the season, but the matchup offers little sizzle compared to the other top bowls.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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