I'm about to put my relationship with Boise State in serious jeopardy.
It began almost three years ago, our mutual affection did. It came a week after the Broncos first invaded the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State won one of the most entertaining bowl games in history with a 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma to finish the 2006 season as the nation's only undefeated team at 13-0.
I was a voter in The Associated Press poll that season, and yes, I was the doofus who bypassed Florida's dominating performance in the BCS championship game against Ohio State and voted Boise State No. 1 in the final poll of the year.
The only vote the Broncos received. The only vote not for the Gators.
A romance was born.
I received several requests from media in Idaho, eager for me to extol the virtues of the Broncos to the home folks. Hundreds of emails from Boise State fans—including one from a Boise State golfer, thanking me for what I did for the BSU athletic program—followed. If I had been able to go to Boise, the city probably would've picked up the tab for my entire trip.
I won't go into the thousands of emails from "well-wishers" who were Florida Gators fans.
The Broncos make their ballyhooed return to the University of Phoenix Stadium to face fellow BCS outsider TCU in the Fiesta Bowl today.
I bring up my relationship with Boise State because as much respect as I have for the Broncos—as well as how great their 2009 season was—there is no Cinderella sequel on the horizon, no way Boise State wins this game.
A Frog Fiesta will get underway later tonight.
Boise State's high-powered offense that averages 44.2 points and 460.5 yards per game came mostly against less-then-stellar defenses. Nine BSU foes ranked 85th or lower among FBS teams in total yards allowed.
That doesn't include FCS foe Cal-Davis.
In the one game against a respectable defense—Oregon finished No. 36—the Broncos had 361 yards and 19 points.
Here come the Horned Frogs, who ranked No. 1 in the nation at 233.3 yards allowed per game.
Now, Boise State intends on starting freshman Brenel Myers at right tackle opposite TCU senior defensive end and outright stud Jerry Hughes, the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year. BSU starter Garrett Pendergast is out with a fractured ankle.
Myers will make his second career start and first at right tackle. As another Myers—Mike as Dr. Evil in "Austin Powers"—would say, "R-r-r-i-i-i-i-g-h-t-t."
That five-sack season through which Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore has breezed is certain to increase. Or, Moore's pristine 39-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio will add a smudge or two.
True, TCU won't have the services of four-year starter Rafael Priest at cornerback because of a foot injury, but Broncos wide receiver Austin Pettis likely will be limited as he recovers from a fractured ankle.
On the flip side, the Horned Frogs' offense averaged 40.7 points and 469.1 yards included games against three teams in the top 30 in defense—Utah, Clemson, and Brigham Young.
The Tigers held TCU to 14 points and 388 yards on a rainy September day in Death Valley, but the Horned Frogs lit up the 19th-ranked Utes defense for 55 points and 549 yards and the 29th-ranked BYU defense for 38 points and 412 yards.
The Broncos bring the No. 14 defense at 299.6 yards allowed—thanks partially to an offseason visit to TCU to study how the Horned Frogs coaching staff teaches defense—but will face the No. 5 rushing offense at 256.5 yards per game.
Boise State hasn't played a game in 30 days; TCU's drought will end at 37 (thanks to the good folks in New Mexico for providing the teams' final tuneup—Boise State beat New Mexico State 42-7 on Dec. 5 while TCU beat New Mexico 51-10 on Nov. 28).
The Horned Frogs, however, played 12 consecutive weeks without a bye week. No doubt they'll have an extra bounce in their step with so much time off, and their speed will pose a huge adjustment for BSU early.
So I'm sorry, beloved Broncos, but I just don't see any way past TCU today. I don't have an AP vote this year, so I hope my history with them will get us through our upcoming Fiesta Bowl experience.
Especially if Boise State wins.
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