Whenever people talk about Boise State, they talk about Kellen Moore. It is only natural, considering all Moore has done as a four-year starter for the Broncos.
But if the past two games between the Broncos and TCU are any indication, defense is going to take center stage. It was Boise State that harassed and bothered Andy Dalton in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, forcing him into three interceptions. One of them was returned for a touchdown, making a difference in the Broncos' 17-10 win.
In the Poinsettia Bowl in 2008, TCU limited Boise State to just 250 total yards. Moore had no touchdown passes and one interception as the Horned Frogs won 17-16.
So it might be a safe bet to pick a defensive battle Saturday when TCU travels to play No. 5 Boise State with the Mountain West championship on the line.
"It's just one of those things in a game like that between two great teams, usually the most physical team wins," Boise State nickel back Hunter White said in a phone interview. "Their defense has been great the last few years. They always say defense wins championships. We feel it does, especially when you have two caliber teams like this."
You can bet TCU coach Gary Patterson enjoys trying to game plan for Moore, who has never thrown a touchdown pass against TCU. In fact, TCU is one of three teams to hold Moore without a touchdown pass, and the only team to do it twice. Moore has averaged 216.5 passing yards a game and completed 60.8 percent of his passes in two games against the Horned Frogs, both below his career averages -- 272.8 yards and 69.2 percent.
But Patterson says he only has fooled Moore once with a coverage. It was a zone blitz that resulted in a sack.
"That's a great compliment," Patterson said. "We feel we can play pretty decent defense around here. He's a guy who has an answer for all those things."
Boise State is no slouch in the defense department, either, especially along the defensive front. TCU presents a unique challenge, though, because the Horned Frogs are varied in what they can do. They have an excellent trio of running backs in Waymon James, Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley -- each of whom has more than 500 yards rushing.
Casey Pachall has taken over for Andy Dalton as the starting quarterback and has not really missed much of a beat, throwing for 1,940 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a standout receiver in Josh Boyce, who already has 704 yards receiving and six touchdowns this season.
"They do the same things," White said. "They're successful at what they do and they don't care who's at what position. They run what they're going to run."
The magnitude of this game is not lost on White or his teammates. The intensity level at practice has shot up a notch, knowing they are playing the two-time defending Mountain West champs. Though this is their first and only conference meeting, White and his teammates are looking forward to putting on a show for their fans on the blue turf.
Even if it means a defensive show.
"We know the quality of the team, caliber of the players. They're better, bigger, faster so we can't just approach it like another game like its Colorado State or UNLV," White said. "They are a great team. They have been the last few years. The two games we have played have been close. We have to find that extra edge, bring that extra effort. We know this is going to be a physical game. We need to bring that edge this week."