By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
The NCAA post-season kicked off Dec. 19, with 34 games being played in a three-week span.
The Sportmeisters are previewing each of the bowl games, and providing our predictions as well. Let’s get to it!
Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 4, 8:00 p.m., Glendale, AZ
No. 6 Boise State (13-0) vs. No. 4 TCU (12-0)
About Boise State : Boise State scored 19 points in their opening week matchup against then-No. 8 Oregon, and won. That set the tone for the rest of the season.
Outside of a seven point win over Tulsa during week six, the Broncos won by at least ten points in their run to an undefeated season, 13-0.
Boise State is the No. 1 scoring offense, averaging 44.15 points a game. They have scored at least 40 points each week over the last five weeks. Their offense racks up the yards, averaging 460.46 per game (eighth in NCAA FBS).
What starts all this success? The offensive line, which has given up an NCAA FBS low five sacks for the season, averaging out to .38 a game. That gives Sophomore QB Kellen Moore plenty of time to throw for 3325 yards and 39 touchdowns.
His top targets are Junior WRs Titus Young (71 catches, 969 yards, ten touchdowns) and Austin Pettis (62 catches, 850 yards, 14 touchdowns).
The two-headed rushing attack of Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin have combined for 1858 yards and 20 touchdowns.
For all the points Boise State puts up, the defense prevents scoring like dad on prom night. They are top 15 in total defense (13th at 299.62 yards a game), pass defense (12th at 172.77 yards a game), and scoring defense (15th at 17.69 points a game).
Senior DB Jeron Johnson is the leader of the defense with 88 tackles. His four interceptions are a big piece of the 32 takeaways Boise State has accumulated, second in turnover margin with +19.
Junior DL Ryan Winterswyk has 40 tackles and 8.5 sacks. His 16,5 tackles for loss are one of the reasons Boise State is 12th in tackles for loss (7.46 a game). Whatever conference you put them in, Boise State is a great team.
About TCU : Win five straight games by 40 or more points? Check. Win by double digits in 10 of 12 games? Check. Yup, just another ho-hum year for TCU, another team to run the table and face off in the Fiesta Bowl.
TCU, much like their opponents, have one of the dominant offenses in college football. They have a top five scoring offense (fourth with 40.67 points per game), total offense (fourth with 469.08 yards a game), and rushing offense (fifth with 256.20 yards a game).
Junior QB Andy Dalton leads the offense with 2,484 passing yards and 22 touchdowns, while contributing another 522 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Joseph Turner and Matthew Tucker lead the rushing game with a combined 1,399 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
If the offense is good, the defense is even better. The nation’s number one defense (233.25 yards a game) that gives up 12.42 points a game (sixth in NCAA FBS), that gives up a mere 80.50 yards on the ground (third in NCAA FBS) and only 152.75 yards in the air (fourth in NCAA FBS), TCU is unstoppable without the ball.
Senior DL Jerry Hughes is one of the leaders, accumulating 54 tackles (15 for loss) and 11.5 sacks. Senior LB Daryl Washington leads the team with 99 tackles (7.5 for loss), two sacks, and three interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
If teams thought Boise State had a good defense, they haven’t lined up against the Horned Frogs.
The Matchup : Boise State is 5-4 in bowl games. They’ve lost two in a row while making bowl eligibility for the eighth straight season.
TCU is 11-13-1. They’ve been to a bowl game for five straight years, winning four in a row.
These two teams met last season, as TCU ended Boise State’s perfect season in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl 17-16.
One of the best matchups will be seeing Hughes attempt to get past the Bronco’s O-line and take down Moore.
Boise State will have difficulty running all day against the top rushing defense, but their ability to protect the QB should allow him time to find a hole in the 4-2-5 scheme TCU runs.
The lack of OT Garrett Pendergast (knee) and the game-time decision of Pettis could shrink that time Moore has.
Look for TCU to mix up the offense, relying a bit on the run, especially option and zone reads. Dalton has the ability to move with his legs, and a strong rushing attack will neutralize the Broncos, who are better at stopping the pass than the run.
If he does have to pass, look for Boise State to bring pressure, as they attempt to add to their 21 interceptions on the season.
The Prediction : In one of the best bowl games of the season, TCU squeaks by Boise State 21-17.
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