With TCU leaving its conference at the end of this season, the Horned Frogs yearn to win their third consecutive MWC title and finish with a 24-game win streak against their conference, which now stands at 21.
Boise State is undefeated and looking to finish the season in that fashion.
Both teams know that whoever wins the game on Saturday will have the road paved to win the MWC title, considering the remaining schedule for both teams. The game in Boise is already being called the Mountain West Conference championship or the equivalent of one.
This game was originally scheduled to be played in TCU, where the Horned Frogs have won 24 out of 25 of their last home games. When TCU announced that it was leaving (at first to the Big East), the MWC directors changed it to be played on the blue turf of Boise State.
There are 10 keys to watch during this Mountain West Conference clash.
Kellen Moore is having a spectacular senior year and career with the Broncos.
He has thrown for 2,229 yards, 29 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. He has won the most games of any starting quarterback in NCAA history.
He has given the Broncos a touchdown on 11.2 percent of his passes, the best in the nation. They are seventh in points overall.
He is a strong leader and will take the stage with ease this Saturday to lead the Broncos to a victory over TCU. Also, he is second right now in the ESPN Heisman Tracker, behind Andrew Luck.
He has all the motivation to push himself to play beyond his best limits. His conviction could overcome TCU's physical defense.
Sophomore quarterback Casey Pachall is doing well this year, especially since he's backed up by a strong rushing team. He has thrown for 19 touchdowns, five interceptions and 1,940 yards this season.
His predecessor, Andy Dalton, was TCU's all-time leading passer. He had a lot to carry when Dalton left.
His numbers aren't too bad: He is No. 8 in the nation in passing efficiency, he rushed for two touchdowns and completed at least 56 percent of his passes in every game this year.
He's doing what Dalton did with the Horned Frogs as well—winning games.
He is quick on his feet and can make plays when he needs to. Boise State's defensive front need to keep an extra eye on him.
Senior wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker is having the best season of his career.
He received 33 catches for 106 yards and 11 TDs. He is quick on his feet and can perform big plays when he needs to. He was part of the fake punt in the game against Colorado State, where on a fourth down, he took the ball from a direct snap and ran it for 36 yards.
While there were some games where he didn't get a lot of looks or catches, there were others where he contributed greatly.
It'll be interesting to see how many catches he'll make and how he'll perform this Saturday against TCU.
One thing he cannot do: drop the ball.
Josh Boyce is a standout wide receiver for the Horned Frogs and has great connection with Pachall. He has received 46 catches this year for 704 yards and six touchdowns.
He is known for his ability to quickly change the game. If he doesn't have a decent man-to-man coverage, he's going to change the game quicker than Boise State can say "Boyce."
While he's had a few shaky games and dropped passes, this is the one game in which he shouldn't screw up. He can make or break the game for TCU.
While TCU does have a good quarterback and a game-changing wide receiver, it also has an excellent running game and trio of running backs.
Waymon James has rushed for 652 yards in 77 attempts, also scoring four touchdowns. Matthew Tucker has rushed for 532 yards in 97 attempts with nine touchdowns. Ed Wesley has rushed for 528 yards in 78 attempts with three touchdowns.
Combined, they've all rushed for 1,712 yards.
Boise State's rushing defense has limited its opponents' rushers to 140.38 yards a game. It will be something to see as this trio tries to break through the Broncos' line and rush down the field.
The Broncos defense may limit the TCU running backs, but it'll be interesting to see how they'll perform on Saturday and if they'll rack up the rushing yards.
Boise State has such a strong quarterback that it's a huge plus that they also have a decent running game.
Doug Martin and D.J. Harper are both solid running backs for the Broncos. Martin has rushed for 756 yards in 148 attempts with nine touchdowns. Though, Martin is day-to-day and he may not be able to play on Saturday. Harper has rushed for 365 yards and six touchdowns.
TCU has a better rushing defense than the Broncos. The Horned Frogs have limited their opponents to an average of 123.44 yards per game.
Boise State might be limited to a passing game, and it's unlikely that the coach would try to mix up the run and the pass in this matchup.
There is one thing that both teams do not want to commit on Saturday, and that is turnovers. Both teams want to win the turnover margin; it is not something either one wants to give up.
Boise State has caught six interceptions and grabbed three fumbles to gain yardage at home this season. TCU has caught five interceptions and grabbed five fumbles to gain yardage at away games this year.
TCU's defense has shown to be stronger on the road. Boise State does not want to give up the ball in crunch time. In the conference, TCU has a -1 turnover margin and Boise State has a turnover margin of 1.
TCU better not turn the ball over Saturday; it will change the momentum of the game.
Both teams have them.
Boise State has to keep winning in order to keep that slight chance of playing for the BCS championship alive. The Broncos want to win the MWC championship.
TCU wants to win this game to grab the championship title as well. The Horned Frogs also want to extend their winning streak in the Mountain West. They want to make their mark on the conference before they depart to the Big 12.
Both have a rivalry against one another.
TCU took away Boise State's chance for being 13-0 for a second year and Moore's chance at winning his first bowl game in the Poinsettia Bowl in 2008. Boise State harassed Andy Dalton, who threw three interceptions, one that was run back for a touchdown, and beat TCU in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.
What's obvious in this matchup is that the defense will win the game for its team.
As proven by the last few times these teams met, it all comes down to defense.
Defense is what is going to win this upcoming game. Whoever comes out more physical, more aggressive, whoever comes out taking the center stage, that's the team that is going to win.
TCU's defense has allowed 24 touchdowns this season, ranking 34th overall in the nation. Against Boise State, TCU has to do its best to limit the Broncos' scoring. TCU has a better rushing defense than passing and will have to step it up against Boise's passing game.
In the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, TCU's defense limited the Broncos to 250 total offensive yards. Moore did not throw for any touchdowns and threw one interception. TCU won that game by one point, 17-16.
While things have changed over the years, TCU's defense will have to find that spark that won the team that bowl game and use it when it plays on the blue turf this weekend.
Boise State's total defense is 12th in the nation overall. It's only allowed 18 touchdowns this season. It's limited its opponent's offensive play for an average of 4.9 yards a play and 302.9 yards a game.
The Broncos' defense has a challenge against the TCU offense because the Horned Frogs have a variety of talent that can easily take over the field, especially their excellent trio of running backs.
The Broncos have a strong defensive front that has prepared itself for TCU. This will be its first and only conference meeting.
The Broncos want to play it up for the home crowd. They won't back down easily. They are going to bring a tough, physical game.
This matchup will be a defensive show. Whoever shows up will be the ultimate winner this Saturday, and possible the MWC champs of 2011.