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Boise State running back Ian Johnson and Co. will face a stiff task against TCU's top-ranked rush defense. :: AP

Boise State (12-0) vs. TCU (10-2)
Dec. 23, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Reason To Watch: You don't have to wait until New Year's Day for a BCS-worthy game. Not only is this year's Poinsettia Bowl the best non-BCS game, it's probably a better matchup than a couple of those big-money bowls. Two years ago, Boise State's undefeated record earned the Broncos a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, where they upset Oklahoma in one of the most memorable college football games ever. This year, despite being one of two teams in the country to put together an undefeated season, the BCS passed over the Broncos in favor of Utah (Sugar Bowl) and Ohio State (Fiesta Bowl). The four-year-old Poinsettia Bowl benefited from Boise State's snub, lucking into a prime-time matchup between the No. 9 Broncos and No. 11 TCU Horned Frogs. 

Keep An Eye On: While Boise State and its bag of tricks might steal the national spotlight, the best player on the field will be TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes, who leads the nation with 14 sacks and has 18 1/2 tackles for loss. Hughes, who is a consensus first-team All-America, also has two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He is one of the main reasons the Horned Frogs boast the nation's second-ranked scoring defense, which held opponents to 10.9 points per game, and the top-ranked rushing defense, which held opponents to 48.7 yards per game.

Did You Know?: This is only the second meeting between TCU and Boise State. The first meeting was also a matchup of ranked teams, with No. 18 Boise State defeating No. 19 TCU 34-31 in the 2003 Fort Worth Bowl.

Final Analysis: Boise State may have the nation's 12th-ranked offense, averaging 39.4 points per game, but the Broncos haven't yet played a defense like TCU's. It will be quite a season-ending shell-shock for a group that has seemingly scored at will against overmatched teams all year. Despite the fact that the Broncos averaged 49.0 points in their last five games and scored a season-high 61 points against Fresno State to finish the regular season, the Horned Frogs should be able to slow down Boise State's potent offense. The Broncos, on the other hand, will have to find a way to slow down TCU's running game, which ranks 13th nationally and averages 215.6 rushing yards per game. Boise State should be up to the task, as it boasts the third best scoring defense in the nation, allowing just 12.3 points per game and ranks 15th against the run, giving up 104.9 yards a game.

The Pick: Boise State 27, TCU 24. This has the makings of a defensive struggle and most of the yards will likely come on the ground, but something tells me Chris Peterson will have a few tricks up his sleeve and will be able to pull off his second undefeated season in three years as Boise State coach.


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