Aside from Hawaii's trip to the Sugar Bowl last year, Boise State has served as the face of the WAC since the league went through a team roster overhaul in 1999, contracting from two divisions to one when several teams broke off to form the Mountain West. The Broncos came over from the Big West in 2001 and began dominating it, almost from the start.
After going 6-2 in the league in that first season, Boise State has only lost two additional WAC games. Boise State was undefeated in conference play from 2002 through 2004, and again in 2006 and 2008. The Broncos were 7-1 in 2005 and 2007. It all adds up to a 60-4 WAC record in 8 seasons.
It gets even better.
Boise State has never lost at home to a fellow WAC conference member (32-0). Overall, the Broncos have won 38 straight conference home games since falling to Idaho in the final game of the 1998 season when both schools were members of the Big West.
Boise State is currently in the midst of winning 12 straight games overall, 19 consecutive home games, and 49 straight regular season home games.
Boise State has maintained that consistency through several head coaching changes - Houston Nutt (1997), Dirk Koetter (1998-2000), Dan Hawkins (2001-2005), and Chris Peterson (2006-present).
Under Petersen, the Broncos are 35-3 and undefeated for the second time in his three years at the helm. His first season concluded with a scintillating overtime win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Despite its' BCS experience, untouchable track record, a win at Oregon, and a No. 9 finish in the 2008 BCS Standings, the Broncos were snubbed by the BCS bowl games in favor of an Ohio State team that went 10-2.
Fortunately, the Poinsettia Bowl was able to attract a fun matchup with a 10-2 TCU team.
The Horned Frogs have been quite successful themselves in recent history. TCU is 40-10 over the last four years, and has won or shared conference titles in three different leagues since 1999. The Horned Frogs shared WAC titles in 1999 and 2000; shared a CUSA title in 2002; and then captured the outight Mountain West title in its first year in the league in 2005.
Dennis Franchione began the current string of success in 1998. But Franchione's defensive coordinator, Gary Patterson, took the reigns prior to the 2000 GMAC Bowl (then known as the Mobile, Alabama Bowl) when Franchione left for Alabama. Patterson has continued to build the program into a respectable national power, and has compiled records of 71-27 overall, 44-18 in conference games, and 4-3 in bowl games.
Before the Franchione/Patterson era began, TCU had won just one of its previous eleven bowl games and none since 1956.
This year, TCU finished the regular season at No. 11 in the BCS Standings. Like Boise State, the Horned Frogs were on the final cut list of the BCS bowl invitees.
TCU's only losses in 2008 came on road trips to Oklahoma and Utah. The Horned Frogs limited Oklahoma's offensive machine to 35 points in a 35-10 loss, and were the only team besides Texas to manage that trick. TCU outscored the opponents by an average of 35-11.
TCU ranks 2nd nationally in total defense and scoring defense, and 1st in rushing defense. The Horned Frogs also rank 13th in rushing offense with eight different ball carriers gaining over 100 yards, and none gaining more than 494.
Sophomore QB Andy Dalton has thrown 11 TD passes and ran for 8 more scores.
Boise State ranks 3rd in points allowed, 15th in total defense, and 15th in run defense. The Broncos also rank 12th in scoring, 13th in total offense, and 12th in passing. They outscored their opponents by an average of 39-12.
Freshman QB Kellen Moore has thrown 25 TD passes and just 9 INT's while achieving the nation's 10th-best passer efficiency rating.
Senior RB Ian Johnson, the man who famously proposed to the cheerleader after the Fiesta Bowl win, is still the team's leading rusher even though he has shared the load with sophomore Jeremy Avery (613 yards, 4 TD's). Johnson ran for 738 yards and scored 12 TD's, and also caught 19 balls for 234 yards.
The 4th annual Poinsettia Bowl will be broadcast on ESPN beginning at 8pm eastern on December 23.