Boise State football is headed back to Phoenix.
With an 8:15 p.m. MT kickoff on Dec. 27, the Broncos (10-2) will face Baylor (6-6) in the Cactus Bowl, played at Chase Field, the home of the major-league Arizona Diamondbacks. It will be televised on ESPN.
“It’s exactly what we were looking for, with how this season ended up, trying to play against the best opponent possible,” Boise State junior tight end Jake Roh said. “Baylor’s a great program, so we’re excited for the matchup.”
The Broncos and Bears have never met in a football game.
For more bowl information click here. Tickets are $35-$140.
Baylor, from the Big 12, started the season 6-0, but lost its last six heading into the bowl game. Riddled with a sexual assault scandal, the team has used an interim coach in Jim Grobe this season, and is seeking a new head coach.
Boise State has played in Phoenix bowl games three times before, winning all of them: the Fiesta Bowl after the 2006, 2009 and 2014 seasons.
Traditionally, the Cactus Bowl is a matchup between the Big 12 and Pac-12, but the Pac-12 could not fulfill all of its bowl slots, and the Mountain West has the backup spot.
A quick look at Baylor:
Offensively, the Bears are still one of the best in the nation, sitting at No. 5 with 523.3 yards per game (273.1 passing, 250.2 rushing). They are 34th in scoring offense, averaging 34.9 points per game. Running back Terence Williams leads with 945 yards rushing and receiver KD Cannon leads with 989 yards receiving. The Bears lost quarterback Seth Russell for the season Nov. 12 with an ankle injury, and have used freshman Zach Smith in the three games since.
Defensively, the Bears are 82nd, allowing 434.4 yards per game and tied for 81st with 30.4 points per game allowed. Their rush defense is tied for 96th with 210.5 yards per game allowed.
Boise State is 14-5 against Power Five conference schools since the start of the 2006 season. The last Big 12 team the Broncos played was Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2007.
Here are the Broncos’ 19 games against Power Fives the last 11 seasons:
▪ 2006 Oregon State W 42-14
▪ 2006 Oklahoma W 43-42 (OT)
▪ 2007 at Washington L 10-24
▪ 2008 at Oregon W 37-32
▪ 2009 Oregon W 19-8
▪ 2010 Virginia Tech W 33-30
▪ 2010 Oregon State W 37-24
▪ 2011 Georgia W 35-21
▪ 2011 Arizona State W 56-24
▪ 2012 at Michigan State L 13-17
▪ 2012 Washington W 28-26
▪ 2013 at Washington L 6-38
▪ 2013 Oregon State L 23-38
▪ 2014 Ole Miss L 13-35
▪ 2014 Arizona W 38-30
▪ 2015 Washington W 16-13
▪ 2015 at Virginia W 56-14
▪ 2016 Washington State W 31-28
▪ 2016 at Oregon State W 38-24
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin has reportedly interviewed with Oregon for its head coaching vacancy. On a teleconference for the Cactus Bowl, I asked Harsin about the report, if he had interviewed or had interest. Here’s his response:
“This is really about the bowl game, and that’s the main focus right now. We just got this information, we’re processing all of that, that’s all we’re focused on at this point, so our coaches are preparing to head out on the road and recruit again, that’s the next step for us. That’s really all we’re talking about today, and I want to make sure everybody knows how excited we are to go play Baylor.”
Former Boise State coach Chris Petersen will take Washington into the College Football Playoff as the No. 4 seed, when the Huskies will face No. 1 Alabama in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.
The other semifinal matchup is Clemson and Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
The other matchups in the New Year’s Six are USC-Penn State (Rose), Michigan-Florida State (Orange), Oklahoma-Auburn (Sugar), Wisconsin-Western Michigan (Cotton).
Boise State goes into bowl season unranked in the AP and coaches polls. The Broncos received 95 points in the AP poll, three spots outside the top 25, and 50 points in the Amway coaches poll, two spots outside the top 25.
As is the usual, coaches’ final ballots were released. Boise State coach Bryan Harsin had former boss Petersen’s Huskies No. 2 and Boise State No. 18. See his, and other coaches’ votes here.
Here’s how I voted in the AP poll:
2. Ohio State
5. Penn State
10. Western Michigan
12. Oklahoma State
13. Florida State
14. West Virginia
18. Virginia Tech
20. South Florida
25. Boise State