When TCU guard Josh Vernon boarded the elevator at the team's Fiesta Bowl headquarters hotel last week, a woman glanced at his outfit and asked what "TCU" stood for.
"I told her and she said, 'Well, where exactly is that?'" Vernon said, chuckling.
"It is funny. We went to Clemson (a 14-10 victory Sept. 26), and it's 'Where's TCU?' By the end of that game, they knew who we were."
With a colorful history that includes two national titles -- in the 1930s -- the third-ranked Horned Frogs are no secret to college football fans.
But they're hoping to make themselves known to a wider audience when they take on sixth-ranked Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl tonight -- just as the Broncos became national darlings after knocking off Oklahoma on the same field three years ago.
Unlike many of the non-title BCS bowls, this one has a compelling storyline, and it goes beyond whether TCU's stalwart defense can shut down Boise State's high-flying offense.
It's the first time two schools from conferences without automatic BCS bids have met on college football's grandest stage. A pair of unbeatens, too.
Mountain West champion TCU (12-0) earned an automatic bid to break into the BCS for the first time in school history. Its rÃ©sumÃ© includes wins over Clemson in Death Valley and at Virginia, and humiliating routs of conference rivals Brigham Young and Utah.
Western Athletic Conference champ Boise State (13-0) became the first team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to receive an at-large bid. The Broncos launched their season with a 19-8 victory over eventual Pac-10 champion Oregon -- a game mostly remembered for Oregon tailback LeGarrette Blount's post-game punchout of Boise State's Byron Hout.
"I would say by having two non-qualifying schools in a BCS game, that has changed the landscape of college football forever as far as the BCS is concerned," TCU coach Gary Patterson said Sunday.
The winner will join either Alabama or Texas as the nation's only unbeaten teams, an outcome that won't satisfy playoff advocates.
"Finish among the few, that's all you can ask for, and let the debate go on," Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore said last week.
"Show me right now how a playoff system is going to make it easier for Texas Christian University and Boise State, unless you give us an automatic qualifying berth into that playoff system," Patterson said. "It hasn't changed."