Wednesday: BSU offense vs. TCU defense, Yesterday: TCU offense vs. BSU defense, Today: Intangibles vs. Tangibles
Our Poinsettia Bowl preview has touched on both sides of the ball for both TCU and Boise State, but you know as well as we do that there is much more that goes into the final result of the game than just offense and defense. For instance, red PowerAde.
If we were to stop after only previewing the offense and defense, we would have determined that this game would end in a 0-0 tie and that neither team would ever get a first down. That's not going to look very good for the San Diego County Credit Union now, is it?
Fortunately, there are intangibles to take into account, as well as a number of tangibles that do not fall under the categories "offense" and "defense." These factors may or may not be game changers, but with two evenly matched teams, every little bit counts. This is why we are wearing our Boise State shirt under our clothing all week. You know, just in case.
With that in mind, let's explore the possibilities of Poinsettia Bowl minutae. Come along.
Tangible: Special teams
We could have written an entire post about special teams, but we weren't in the mood. Besides, all you really need to know is that both teams could break a punt or kickoff for a touchdown at a moment's notice or pin the other deep inside their own territory or launch a game-winning FG as time expires.
Actually, scratch that last part. TCU can't exactly do that. Remember the Utah game? Remember when Ross Evans, the golden-toed TCU kicker, botched two gimme FG attempts that would have won the game for the Horned Frogs? That was probably the biggest game that TCU had played all season long, and he completely choked. A repeat could very well be possible if he has the weight of the Poinsettia Bowl resting squarely on his shoulders in the closing minutes.
Plus, Boise State excels at blocking and pressuring kicks. Evans will not have an easy time of it no matter when he lines up for his kicks, much less at the end of the game. Also, this would be a convenient time to not point out the fact that Kyle Brotzman has struggled with accuracy this year. If anyone asks, we never mentioned it.
Let's change the subject. TCU will trot out Aaron Brown (31.9 KO return average) and Jeremy Kerley (14.5 PR return average) for kick return duties, both of whom are consummate pros at winning the field position battle. Boise State will counter with Kyle Wilson (three return touchdowns) and a cast of thousands returning kickoffs, all of whom have the ability to take one to the house - the Corey Barton inflatable house, as it were. Comparing TCU and Boise State in this area, these fellas are a wash.
Looks like the winner here will be the better kicker. Ross Evans disappointed everyone with his Utah performance. Kyle Brotzman disappointed no one ever in his entire life except for Brad Elkin.
Winner: Boise State
Who wants it more? Or, as running backs/special teams/motivational Bronco coach Jeff Choate would say, "WHO FEELS THIS GAME IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING YOU'LL EVER DO AGAIN IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE? NOW WATCH ME EAT THIS LIVE SEAGULL!"
Boise State has always been known for its scrappy players who get by more on desire than on anything else. Need we break out our Marty Tadman scrapbook for evidence? But TCU is in the same boat. The kids who play for the Horned Frogs had to slip through the grasp of bigger and better schools like Texas and Texas Tech, or they had to really like the Fort Worth nightlife.
In both cases, these teams want to win this game (and every game, for that matter) as badly as is humanly allowed. Jeff Choate can get behind that.
Boise State plays in the easiest conference in America. They do not belong with the likes of TCU or even Colorado State. They are overrated in the polls and survive on name recognition from a bowl played two years ago. They'll get killed by a real team. Their entire undefeated season is a sham because of their schedule, and their offense and defense aren't nearly as good as their fans think they are. Please make the Broncos go away.
(excerpt taken from Mark May's diary)
The Broncos have plenty of reasons to be motivated for the game against the Horned Frogs. TCU has ... the prospects of an 11-2 record?
Winner: Boise State
It's time to hurt some TCU feelings. We feel that Coach Pete is a better coach than Gary Patterson. And if you TCU folk feel otherwise, you can come to Boise and set us straight. Our name is Brian Murphy.
Up until this season, we probably would have called it even between two of the non-BCS' best coaches. But then the Broncos went undefeated and changed our perceptions forever. In the offseason, Coach Pete had an inexperienced, green team on his hands that many people didn't believe would get past nine wins. Now look at them. They are one of the ten best teams in the country. It would take a coaching genius to be able to do that.
We mean no disrespect to Gary Patterson, but until he pieces together a couple of undefeated seasons, our allegiances will have to lie with Coach Pete.
Winner: Boise State
If Boise State wins, they will have a very good chance of being the only undefeated team in the country. Again. At the very least, they will be undefeated along with Utah, and they will continue to be a poster child for the injustice of the BCS system.
Beating TCU would put this Boise State team down in history as one of the best Boise State teams ever. Losing would really kill the buzz.
When the Poinsettia Bowl is said and done, the Broncos will either be historically great or they will be oh-so-close. TCU isn't dealing with anything near the same consequences. If the Horned Frogs win, they will move to 11-2, which is not even the best record in the Gary Patterson era. They are not playing for the history books; they are playing for personal pride.
And Rick Reilly does not pen back-page ESPN the Magazine columns about personal pride (unless it is Tiger Woods' personal pride).
Winner: Boise State
Tangible: Coin toss
Believe it or not, we feel that the coin toss could be a key to the game. Hopefully Ian Johnson is practicing at home. Nothing less than a quarter, Ian!
Here's one reason why: Let's say that TCU wins the toss and elects to receive. Let's say they go on a seven- or eight-minute drive and end up with a touchdown or field goal. There goes 1/8th of the game right off the bat and Boise State is playing from behind.
Just as likely to happen, TCU wins the toss and Boise State stuffs them on a three-and-out, sending a message for the remainder of the game.
Here's another reason: if there's wind in San Diego, it sure would be nice to have it at your back in the fourth quarter. Coach Pete knows this; Gary Patterson knows this; Larry Gebert knows this. Whoever wins the toss might elect to take the wind first.
In that case, may we leave you with this little bit of advice: "Tails never fails."
The sun will take a break from scooping raisins into Raisin Bran in order to make a prolonged appearance at the P-Bowl. He loves his non-BCS bowl matchups!
This favors no one in particular. Sunny games are the reason why the Super Bowl is never played in cold cities with outdoor stadiums. Balmy weather creates a level playing field and gives teams a chance to do whatever it is they do best. Jerry Hughes would not do well on a slick track, which is why he prefers his playing surfaces spongy and fast. Likewise, the sun shining will let Kellen Moore whip passes all around the field with no regard for Mother Nature. We hear she'll be at the Las Vegas Bowl anyway.
So if Boise State loses, it will only be the end of our world. No pressure.
We have to think it will be the same for the Broncos. They have worked hard all year to maintain this undefeated season, and to see it all come crashing down in their final game would be just horrible. Plus, they have the eyes of the country watching to see if they can stand up to the challenge of a MWC team like TCU who might just be one of the best teams in all the land.
On top of that, a lot of people are saying that Boise State's performance in the P-Bowl will determine the likelihood of their making it into the MWC in a few years. Lose badly and they might never leave the WAC. Lose at all and they are bound to fall in the polls, get a lower 2009 preseason ranking and maybe not even be as highly sought after for a BCS bid down the road.
TCU has ... that elusive 11-2 record hanging over its head?
Winner: TCU (because they have no pressure)
Overall winner: Boise State
A lot of the little parts of the Poinsettia Bowl are leaning Boise State's way. The Broncos will have motivation and coaching and history on their side, and any number of those things could help lead them to a win.
Of course, same goes for TCU. If the pressure of a big game gets to the Broncos, the Horned Frogs stand to benefit. And if Ross Evans got counseling between the Utah game and now, we could be in store for an epic battle of special teams.
The different factors, both intangible and tangible, that surround the main P-Bowl conversation are important to remember, even if they don't end up in the final write-up of the game. Rece Davis might not mention them, but you sure can. And you can impress your friends when you do.