Dec 22

Poinsettia Bowl Preview

Posted By:Josh Morse  Tags:

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Photo: USPresswire.com

This could just as easily be a BCS game with the way the two teams played this year, and it's certainly among the most attractive of the non-BCS bowls. Boise State got left out of the show despite going 12-0 with a road win over Oregon. The lack of respect for the WAC, and Utah getting the automatic bid among the non-BCS teams, relegated the Broncos to San Diego. Now they'll get a chance to show that they really did belong in the Fiesta Bowl over Ohio State, while TCU will try to get an extremely nice win for the Mountain West. The Horned Frogs tie Texas for the honor of keeping Oklahoma to its lowest scoring output of the year in a 35-10 loss, but they still had a BCS spot there for the taking after blasting BYU 32-7. Against Utah, a late scoring drive led to a 13-10 loss, and now TCU is in a December bowl and will try to win its fourth straight postseason game. These two met in the 2003 Fort Worth Bowl with the Broncos winning a 34-31 thriller.

TCU: The defense is among the best in the country, finishing second behind USC in total defense, allowing just 215 yards per game; second behind the Trojans in scoring defense, allowing just 10.9 points per game; and tied for first against the run, allowing 48.67 yards per game. The defensive front, led by All-American Jerry Hughes, has gotten into the backfield against everyone, including Oklahoma, while the defense as a whole allowed more than seven points in just five games and more than 14 once. The offense has flown under the radar despite averaging 417 yards and 35 points per game. Sophomore WR Jeremy Kerley was one of the nation's top punt returners and one of the Mountain West's most dangerous all-around weapons this year, but he was banged up over the final four games with an ankle problem and wasn't able to produce. He'll be fully healthy for the game. Also 100 percent will be RB Joseph Turner, who struggled late in the year playing with an ankle injury.

Boise State: The Broncos have always been known for their high-octane offense, but this year it was about efficiency. The passing game was crisp, didn't make a lot of mistakes, and always kept the chains moving. The defense did its part with a dominant season allowing 10 points or fewer in eight games and gave up more than 16 points just twice. The lines have been flawless, the special teams peerless, and QB Kellen Moore and the passing game surprisingly good all year long. The running game was fine, but not because of the signature star. It'll be the final game in the great career of RB Ian Johnson, who had a huge regular season finale against Fresno State, but it was his only 100-yard game of the season. He had a 101-yard day against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, but he was held to just 10 yards on two carries against Boston College in 2005 and was banged up last year against East Carolina in the Hawaii Bowl, rushing for 11 yards on four carries. He'll have a hard time being effective against the TCU defensive front, but he'll need to bang away on the inside.

Guy to watch for: Boise State S George Iloka. Iloka is raw, to be sure, but he also has the combination of size, speed, and athletic ability that's off the charts for a safety. At 6-3, 202, the true freshman gets tremendous elevation on jump balls and can go stride-for-stride with most receivers in the WAC. He's laid the foundation for a tremendous future in Boise with 55 tackles, five tackles for loss, four picks, and 10 passes defended.

Farewell to: TCU LB Jason Phillips. Pegged as a fullback when he arrived from Waller (Texas) High School, Phillips will go down as one of the best linebackers to ever play in Fort Worth. A four-time All-Mountain West selection and the heart and soul of this defense, he's a relentless run stopper with more than 300 tackles on the resume.

Interesting #: 75. The two teams combined for 75 sacks on the year with TCU finishing second in the nation behind Texas in sacks per game and Boise State finishing 10th with 34.

If you have to watch one non-BCS game, this is it.

I'm taking TCU's Dynamic D to take out boise by a TD

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