GLENDALE, ARIZ.—In the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, a previously unbeaten No. 9 Boise State Broncos ran in the No. 11 TCU Horned Frogs. After giving up an early lead, the TCU defense took over and stopped the Broncos 17-16. This year, it was the No. 6 Boise State defense that held, beating No. 4 TCU 17-10 in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl and ending the nation’s second-longest winning streak at 14 games.
Boise State’s Brandon Thompson, a junior, picked off two Andy Dalton passes, returning one for a touchdown and setting up the other Broncos touchdown. Thompson also had seven tackles, earning the defensive player of the game award. Sophomore tight end Kyle Efaw earned offensive player of the game honors with four receptions for 75 yards.
Both teams were expected to put on an offensive show. Boise State’s quarterback Kellen Moore was ranked No. 1 in passing in the country; TCU’s Andy Dalton was No. 6. Both teams were ranked in the top 20 in offense and in defense. Boise State led the nation in scoring; TCU was ranked fourth. Defensively, TCU was ranked sixth and Boise State was ranked 16th.
Football pundits have always said great defensive trumps great offense and tonight was no different. Down 17-10 with a little more than five minutes, TCU held Boise State on third-and-twelve. Punter Kyle Brotzman, who punted eight times in the game, kicked a 36-yarder to TCU’s Jeremy Kerley. Kerley found a seam on the TCU sideline and ran the ball back 39 yards to the Boise State 31-yard line.
Given 5:37 to go 31 yards, TCU players and fans alike felt confident going downfield and scoring. However, the Boise State defense wouldn’t give in, forcing three incomplete passes and a sack.
TCU would have one final drive after its defense held on third-and-five. The Broncos Brotzman came up with the punt of his career, kicking the ball downfield and his teammates letting it roll all the way to the 1-yard line. With 1:04 left, Dalton went to work. Three straight passes moved the pass to the TCU 36. After Dalton spiked the ball to stop the clock, receiver Jimmy Young was interfered with by Boise State’s Jerrell Gavins. On first-and-10 from the BSU 49, Dalton hit Kerley for 19 yards. On the next play, Dalton threw down the TCU sideline, where the Broncos Winston Venable intercepted the ball. Boise State took a knee to run out the final 18 seconds.
Moore completed 23 passes in 39 attempts for 211 yards. Jeremy Avery, who gained over a 1,000 yards rushing during the regular season, had 12 carries for 20 yards. Titus Young had three carries for 16 yards; he also had eight catches for 72 yards. Nine different players caught passes for the Broncos.
Dalton completed 25 passes in 44 attempts for 272 yards and one touchdown. He also had three interceptions. Running back Joseph Turner had seven carries for 22 yards. Kerley had six receptions for 65 yards. Curtis Claw caught the only touchdown for TCU, a 30-yard pass from Dalton.
Boise State struck first, scoring on Thompson’s 51-yard interception with 11:28 in the first. In the second quarter, the Broncos scored again, this time on a 40-yard field goal with 8:02 left. TCU finally put together an offensive drive, going downfield in five plays for 62 yards in 1:11, making the score 10-7 at halftime. The Horned Frogs scored again with 3:42 left in the third, this time tying the game on a 29-yard Ross Evans field goal.
Boise State broke the tie game with 7:21 left in the game. Punter Brotzman, on a fourth-and-nine from their own 33, took the long snap a hit a wide open Efaw for 29 yards and a Bronco first down. Four plays later, Doug Martin was flipped over the goal line for a 2-yard touchdown run.
Boise State‘s defense held the Horned Frogs to 1-of-12 on third down conversions. “Early in the game they [Boise State] were doing stuff we hadn’t seen. …all the looks in practice we were getting, that’s not what we saw out there,” says Dalton. “…early on we really didn’t know what exactly they were doing out there….at times we would [know]. But they did a lot of different things.”
Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year Gary Patterson added to Dalton’s statement. “One of the things that was interesting is they moved their all-conference corner [Kyle Wilson] to safety in nickel and dime packages. That was a more even matchup on passing downs by doing that.”
Boise State’s biggest pass play of the game came not from the nation’s top rated passer but the punter. “It takes a lot of guts,” says Moore, “but Kyle Brotzman…he has been working with out quarterbacks all year. A lot of guys back in Idaho from the media know he does our quarterback drills with us every Thursday, kinda a joking around, and every once in a while it pays off.” A lot of joking around, according to head coach Chris Peterson.
Continues Peterson: “If you look at the states, a real evenly matched game. I think when it comes down to that, you are splitting hairs and fortunate we were able to make a play or two and get the W. [On the fake punt play] We got the look we wanted. I think we have about ten times fore confidence in Kyle sometimes than he talks about himself; but their was not doubt if Brotz got it in the vicinity he was going to make a play and gets something done.”
Boise State finishes the season undefeated with a record of 14-0; the Broncos and the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes are the only college football teams in history to do so.
TCU finished 12-1, snapping a 14-game winning streak.