The chance of playing in a BCS game is zero, but TCU still has a lot to play for this season. Saturday’s match up against Boise State will determine who wins the Mountain West Conference. The Mountain West decided to move the game from Fort Worth to Boise after TCU made known its intentions to leave the conference. TCU could wrap up its third straight conference title, sending a big message to the rest of the Mountain West as TCU leaves for the Big 12.
Both Boise and TCU have explosive offenses. Kellen Moore leads in the most proficient passing attacks in the nation. Moore is completing 75 percent of his passes and has thrown 29 touchdowns against only 5 interceptions. Moore should be able to carve up the TCU secondary that is prone to giving up big plays. Tyler Shoemaker is the deep threat for Boise. Shoemaker has 11 touchdowns and is averaging 18.2 yards per catch, which he accomplished in only 33 catches. The Broncos’ leading rusher, Doug Martin, has an injured leg, and his status for the game is uncertain. Martin has averaged 5.1 yards per carry, so his absence or reduced role would force the Broncos to play an unbalanced game and give TCU an advantage. If TCU is going to win the game, the defense needs to step up and pressure Moore. The TCU pass rush had not had the same voracity as it has in past years. Stansly Maponga leads the team with 5.5 sacks. If Maponga and the defensive line reach Moore, they will shorten the amount of time TCU’s inexperienced secondary will have to cover Boise’s speedy receivers. The defense will need to force turnovers to give TCU a fighting chance.
The Horned Frogs have one of the best offenses in the nation. Casey Pachall has played well after taking over for Andy Dalton, but TCU will have its best success if it runs the ball against Boise. TCU has three highly skilled running backs: Waymon James, Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley each have over 500 yards rushing on the season. TCU can run the ball against Boise, which will keep it out of Moore’s hands and allow TCU to control the clock. The Boise run defense struggled against Air Force’s option run. TCU could run the option with similar success if necessary. Even lowly UNLV managed to rack up 182 yards on the ground against Boise. TCU’s biggest offensive problem will be to avoid turnovers. Last week against Wyoming, the Frogs turned the ball over five times, and four of these turnovers were fumbles. If TCU cannot hang on to the football, then the Frogs will be blown out.
TCU struggled in the cold last week at Wyoming, so moving the game to Boise gives the Broncos an advantage. This game will be a high scoring shootout, and the team who turns the ball over fewer times will win the game. The keys for TCU will be to run the ball effectively on offense, keep the ball out of Kellen Moore’s hands and control the clock. On defense the Frogs need to apply pressure on Moore and generate turnovers. If Moore can stay comfortable in the pocket, he will throw the ball all over the TCU defense. The dream of going to a BCS game may be dead, but spoiling Boise’s perfect season would mean a Mountain West Conference title and would allow TCU to leave the conference on top.
Allen Kellogg is a junior strategic communication major from Alexandria, Virginia.