TCU hasn't had to swallow that pill in a long time. But Boise State administered a terrific dose of the medicine in the Fiesta Bowl, first in defending TCU's rush attack quirkily enough to scare the Frogs' young OCs away from the run, and second in faking a punt (pictured) to keep the Bronco's only touchdown drive alive. Those changes, with terrific play by Boise's secondary (snagging three Dalton passes) made just enough difference to give Boise State the win.
While Boise sustained drives better than TCU (converting 40% of its third- and fourth-downs, compared to TCU's dismal eight percent), both teams punted eight times. Boise held the ball a full ten minutes longer than TCU, and ran eight more plays, but engineered exactly no more points from them than TCU did. TCU passed for 30 yards more than BSU, and scored on a pass play. Boise ran for 40 yards more than TCU, and scored on a run play. Both teams had 12 passing first downs, 3 or 4 rushing first downs, and one penalty first down. Neither quarterback had a typical day; Moore was pressured most of the night, and Dalton threw three interceptions, one of which was returned (accounting for all of the difference in the score), and the last killed TCU's attempt to tie the game in the final two minutes.
In the end, Boise's defense was the x-factor. They outplayed TCU's offense so effectively the Frogs could not win, despite their own defense's very good showing. Hughes, Washington, Carder-- all the usual suspects-- were typically terrific.
Much has been-- and should be-- said about TCU's abandoning the run. Matthew Tucker was given just one carry; Ed Wesley only two. Credit Boise's surprise use of a 3-3 and 3-2 front: it scared TCU's young offensive coordinators away from the Frogs' bread and butter, keeping potent purple playmakers off the field. In 2010, the Frogs' stable of runningbacks will be even more audacious than this season: Waymon James, Andre Dean, and Dwight Smith join Tucker and Wesley. Perhaps TCU will be more faithful to its roots, and roster, next season.