SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl may not crown a national champion, but it will reveal which team is the best playing outside of the Bowl Championship Series conferences.
And in an age of college football parity, that means a lot.
We're only a day away from No. 4 TCU and No. 6 Boise State going at it in University of Phoenix Stadium (Fox, 8 p.m. ET), and college football bloggers Ted Miller and Graham Watson break down the matchup.
Ted Miller: Well, Graham, we have an outstanding battle of unbeaten teams in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between No. 4 TCU and No. 6 Boise State, but first I want to start with a gripe. I think a rematch of last year's Poinsettia Bowl between two nonautomatic qualifying teams seems awfully convenient to the BCS conferences. I understand the logistics of how the matchup was created, but how does this game play within the non-AQ community. Is this the Separate-but-Equal Bowl? Does this bowl protect, say, Florida or Iowa from embarrassment?
Graham Watson: You know, Ted, I was a little upset about the bowl matchup early, but after I started studying it, I thought it would be one of the better games of the bowl season. Think about how good this game was a year ago, and now these teams are a year older, a year better and on a bigger stage. Yeah, I think a lot of people would have liked to see one of these teams face a team like Florida or Iowa, but I think beating each other speaks volumes because of the seasons both teams had.
So, Ted, since you don’t cover these teams on a regular basis, what are you most looking forward to seeing?
Ted Miller: I know TCU has a good offense and Boise State has a good defense, but let's face it: The showdown folks can't wait to see is the Broncos' offense -- No. 1 in the nation in scoring -- vs. the Horned Frogs' defense, which is No. 1 in total defense and No. 4 in scoring defense. Boise State hasn't faced a defense that even approaches the quality of TCU, but Chris Petersen is a bit of a mad scientist and he also will have last year's game tape to consult with extra prep time. The Horned Frogs should expect to see every sort of trick and misdirection. And TCU hasn't faced a quarterback like Kellen Moore, who ranked No. 1 in the nation in pass efficiency. TCU will put pressure on Moore, but he's got the savvy to handle it.
Funny thing is, you look at the pass efficiency rankings and you don't have to go too far down to find -- lookie here! -- Andy Dalton at No. 4. Is it just me, or are Dalton and his offense underrated?
Graham Watson: I absolutely agree with that. Dalton is having his best collegiate season and it’s not just the stats, he’s seeing the field better and he’s spreading the ball around to multiple guys. I think the problem for Dalton is that he wasn’t a household name at the start of the season and that he plays in a predominantly rushing offense. But he’s added some much-needed diversity to this attack and I truly believe that that's why the Horned Frogs have been so successful this season.
It’s easy to focus on TCU’s defense and running game, but its passing game can be equally as dangerous and Boise State hasn't seen a quarterback who's as proficient at the pass and the run as Dalton. You could say Oregon's Jeremiah Masoli, but that was his worst game of the year.
So what do you think of this game, Ted? Is Boise State going to pull off another thriller in the desert or does TCU continue to give the Mountain West Conference street cred?
Ted Miller: Graham, I'm a big believer in TCU. I'm not sure that the Frogs wouldn't give a heck of a game to the two teams playing for the national title in Pasadena on Thursday. They've been dominant against a good nonconference -- Virginia and Clemson -- and Mountain West schedule. Only two of their wins came by less than 16 points. They are strong on both sides of the ball.
Boise State is an outstanding, well-coached team, but I think TCU prevails in more decisive fashion than their 17-16 win in last year's Poinsettia Bowl. I like the Frogs, 31-20.
So, what's your take, Graham?
Graham Watson: I have to agree there. I like TCU in this game; I have since the matchup was announced. And really, I would have liked TCU against several teams playing in BCS bowls. While Boise State is very innovative with what it does on both sides of the ball, I think the fact that these teams played each other a year ago and know what to expect takes that whole element of surprise out. I’m sure both teams will throw in some wrinkles, but with all the time to prepare, no one should be caught off guard.
I think this game will be a lot closer than people think, but that TCU will be the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl champion when it’s all said and done. TCU 28, Boise State 20.