Great debate: TCU vs. Boise State

It has come to this: non-AQ brother vs. non-AQ brother trying to tear the other down in an effort to be the first to make history and get into the BCS National Championship Game.

With TCU a solid No. 3 in the BCS standings this week, many Boise State fans have been left to scratch their heads. How is it that the Broncos beat a 7-2 Hawaii team 42-7, rack up a school-record 737 yards of offense, hold an opponent to 196 yards and drop in the human polls? That drop saw them fall further behind TCU in the BCS standings in their quest to get into the national championship game.

On the other side, TCU fans are saying darn right the Horned Frogs moved ahead. Their 47-7 victory against then-No. 5 Utah was more impressive, on the road, against a Top-5 team. The offense was prolific, the defense just as stingy.

So how to judge?

If you take a look at their strength of schedule, TCU has a computer average of 2 and Boise State has a 5. Boise State’s opponents have a .438 winning percentage. TCU’s have a .471 winning percentage. Both have beaten three teams with winning records.

They are both ranked in the Top 10 in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense and total defense. It is actually TCU-Boise State 1-2 in total defense and scoring defense. Both have won impressively, both have veteran teams.

You can make the argument that Boise State is better. You can make the argument that TCU is better. If I was debating myself, here is how I would make those cases:

The case for Boise State: The Broncos have won 22 straight games, the longest winning streak in the country. I am not even going to go into the argument that Boise State beat TCU last season, because this is a new season and new teams. So based on the 2010 version, the Broncos are better on offense. Kellen Moore is a leader you want in the fourth quarter with time winding down. They also have better wide receivers in Austin Pettis and Titus Young. The defense is just as ferocious as the TCU unit. The Horned Frogs have 21 sacks in 10 games. Boise State has 31 sacks in eight games.

Boise State has allowed just 15 red-zone opportunities, and opponents have converted them into points eight times. The 53.3 percent conversion rate is the lowest in the nation. No other team in America gets punished the way the Broncos do. Who else handily wins games and drops in the polls? Boise State fell two spots in the AP poll to No. 4 after the Hawaii win, and one spot in the coaches’ and Harris polls to No. 3. That doesn’t happen to the teams from power conferences, no matter who they play.

The case for TCU: The Horned Frogs have the most impressive win of both schools, going on the road to embarrass Utah. Boise State hasn’t played anybody as highly ranked as Utah, and won’t play anybody as highly ranked as Utah the rest of the season. What, that win wasn’t impressive because the Utes weren’t that good? Well, Virginia Tech lost to James Madison. The TCU defense is better, holding opponents to 8.5 points a game. That is four better than Boise State. Utah didn’t even get past the 50 until the fourth quarter! TCU has allowed just three touchdowns over a 371:24 span, covering seven games and dating back to a Sept. 24 win at SMU.

The TCU offense is more balanced and versatile. Andy Dalton can run and throw. Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker are a better duo at running back. And TCU has one of the best special teams players in the country in Jeremy Kerley. You want a lack of respect? TCU can play that card, too. The Horned Frogs returned 16 starters from a BCS team and started the season ranked behind Florida and Texas – teams missing their best players. Where are those two programs now? TCU kept winning big and kept getting passed in the human polls, too, until this week.

So you see, arguments can be made for both. Boise State finishes the season with four games against opponents that are a combined 21-14. TCU finishes with two opponents that are a combined 8-10.

Who deserves to go to the national championship game if there is an opening? Maybe both if Auburn and Oregon both lose. According to BCS guru Brad Edwards, that scenario is not out of the realm of possibility.

But if there is no opening, then Boise State and TCU will be exactly where they were for the second straight season: on the outside looking in, jockeying for the top BCS bid.