Once the Bears got to bowl eligibility in 2016, they shut down as the closed the season 0-6. The disappointing end to an already tumultuous 2016 campaign was highlighted by the gruesome season-ending injury to starting quarterback Seth Russell. The Bears are the first team to go 6-0 and not win another game since the Fightin’ Illini did it back in 2011.
There is good news for Baylor though, In the past two years, when the Big 12 has struggled in bowl season, the Cactus Bowl has helped produce wins for the conference.
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
Boise State vs Baylor
DATE: Tuesday, Dec 27
TIME: 9:15 PM, CT
LOCATION: Chase Field (Phoenix, AZ)
LINE: Baylor +9
For the remnants of the the Baylor roster (that started the year with 71 scholarship players, and lost others through injury and suspension) will have to battle the distraction of the looming new coaching hire.
For any school going through a coaching change it’s difficult because for the assistant coaches, it’s hard to prepare a team if you don’t know what the next coach is going to want to do, or if you will even have a job.
There is no official indication of what type of existing coaching staff will remain through the bowl preparation period, but our sources have indicated that most likely no one, or very few, will be retained when the new coach comes in.
Expect Baylor to make a hire soon. The longer the time goes, the more likely the college football world views those assistants as toxic. Unfortunately for the underclassmen, who usually benefit from this bowl prep time for development for Spring and 2017, there is no telling what kind of attention the Baylor players will get in the coming weeks.
Boise State, the Cinderella of the 2000s decade brings with them their standard issue 10-win season behind their 16th nationally ranked passing offense. The Broncos were edged out of winning their division in the Mountain West at the hands of Craig Bohl’s rising Wyoming Cowboys program.
Both Boise State and Baylor are not strangers to the desert. However, both teams are a bit more familiar with the confines of University of Phoenix Stadium, and pursuit of a Fiesta Bowl Championship.
The last time Boise State faced a Big 12 team in Arizona, they were a big underdog. This time, they are the hunted as they are a 9-point favorite in Vegas. Though the Bears have a weakness in terms of pass defense, their run stoppers can plan to have their hands full with the nation’s fifth leading rusher in Jeremy McNichols, and his 138.6 yards per game and 23 touchdowns on the year.
The loss of Seth Russell was a big blow, but the Bears showed some fight against West Virginia in the final game of the season. Whether or not they are competitive in this one with largely be determined by just how bad they want to be there.