The matchup has been ripped by many because it pits the two non-BCS conference squads against each other in a BCS game. However, Boise State considers the game a chance to play the highest-ranked team available and avenge its only loss of the past two seasons.
TCU beat Boise State 17-16 last year in the Poinsettia Bowl.
"It sits real uneasy with all of us," sophomore defensive tackle Billy Winn said of that defeat. "It's like that acid in the bottom of your stomach. It makes you sick."
The game isn't exactly a rematch. Boise State lost 10 of the players who started in last year's game; TCU lost 11 Poinsettia Bowl starters and its offensive coordinator.
Both teams have played better, and are ranked higher, this year.
"The interesting thing about this matchup is TCU's better -- and we didn't get it done (last year)," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "We're going to have to be much better than we were last year ourselves."
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Broncos have scored at least 40 points in seven straight games and won by an average of nearly 30 points since a midseason challenge from coach Chris Petersen to refine their play. Most noticeably, the red-zone offense has become almost unstoppable, and the offensive line has blossomed into a strength. The offense has produced a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback (Kellen Moore), three players with at least 14 touchdowns (wide receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis and tailback Doug Martin) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Jeremy Avery). The only concern is injuries, which deprived the Broncos of two of their three starting wide receivers and their fullback down the stretch.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Broncos have shown a weakness against power-run teams dating to last year's Poinsettia Bowl loss to TCU. It might be the only weakness on a group that has great speed and a terrific defensive line, led by Ryan Winterswyk and Billy Winn. The defense hasn't been challenged often but has responded well to those situations -- against teams such as Oregon and Nevada.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: TCU DE Jerry Hughes vs. Boise State OT Nate Potter -- Potter developed into the Broncos' best offensive lineman as the year progressed and was named to the All-WAC first team. He and RT Garrett Pendergast must deal with Hughes, who won the Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end. The Broncos lead the nation with just five sacks allowed this year.
OTHER KEY MATCHUPS: TCU's offensive line vs. Boise State's defensive line -- The Broncos played the Horned Frogs last year with about half of their defensive line. They are healthy and loaded up front this year, which could make a significant difference. The Horned Frogs were able to control the ball with the run game last year.
Boise State QB Kellen Moore vs. TCU's defense -- Moore is the nation's most efficient passer, and he leads the nation's highest-scoring offense. TCU leads the nation in total defense and ranks in the top six in nearly every other defensive category. A big day for Moore would jump-start his 2010 Heisman campaign. He finished seventh this year.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's that rematch on a bigger and better stage. We're looking to take advantage of it." -- Boise State senior CB Kyle Wilson, on the Fiesta Bowl.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
BOWL BREAKDOWN: Boise State vs. TCU, Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 4, Glendale, Ariz. -- Boise State is 25-1 in the past two seasons. TCU is 23-2. Some scoffed at the idea of pairing them in the Fiesta Bowl, but this should be a terrific matchup between two up-and-coming programs. Last year's battle in the Poinsettia Bowl was tense throughout.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
TB Doug Martin -- He finished the season on a three-game tear -- 37 carries, 332 yards and eight touchdowns. He had 15 carries in the previous four games as he battled a muscle pull.
QB Kellen Moore -- The nation's most efficient passer has 39 touchdowns and three interceptions. His lack of mistakes has allowed the Broncos to rank near the top of the country in turnover margin.
DE Ryan Winterswyk -- He has rattled quarterbacks all year with almost constant pressure. He has 8.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss.
WR Austin Pettis -- He caught 14 touchdown passes in the first 11 games, then got hurt at the beginning of the Nevada game. He's questionable for the bowl with a lower leg fracture. The Broncos need him because of his ability to make catches in tight spaces.
--WR Austin Pettis, who missed most of the final two games with a lower-leg fracture, is making progress and is questionable.
--LB Derrell Acrey didn't play in the regular-season finale but will return for the bowl. He is a contributor at middle linebacker.
--WR Tyler Shoemaker (hernia) is expected to return for the bowl.