Baylor vs. Boise State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the Cactus Bowl between the Bears and Broncos.
When: Tuesday, Dec. 27 – 10:15 p.m. ET
Where: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
TV Broadcast: ESPN
This season could have gone much worse than it did for Baylor (6-6). After Art Briles was dismissed from the program, Jim Grobe was brought in to steady the ship, and he did just that. The Bears won their first six games of the season. However, that quickly turned 180 degrees when Baylor lost its final six games to end the regular season.
At one point in the season, it looked as if Boise State (10-2) might have an outside shot at getting into the College Football Playoff. However, as we saw, that faded when the Broncos fell to Wyoming, 30-28, thanks to a safety. After stringing together three straight wins after that, Boise State capped its season off with a 27-20 loss to Air Force.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the Bears and Broncos.
What To Know About Baylor
Seth Russell has not had the best of luck with injuries. He’s out with a fractured ankle, and that means it’s up to Zach Smith to lead the Bears. Last time out in a loss to West Virginia, the freshman quarterback completed 15-of-31 passes for 244 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Smith hooked up with Ishmael Zamora eight times for 102 yards and a touchdown. The other scoring strike was reeled in by KD Cannon, who finished with five catches for 84 yards. Plus, Terence Williams led the team with 90 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
What to Know About Boise State
The Broncos are entering this game relatively healthy. Brett Rypien has pieced together a solid sophomore season. He’s completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 3,341 yards, 23 touchdowns and six interceptions. Thomas Sperbeck and Cedrick Wilson have been his top targets, having combined for 2,234 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns on 122 catches.
However, it’s Jeremy McNichols who has been Boise State’s x-factor. Not only did he lead the team with 1,663 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns, but he averages 5.6 yards per carry. McNichols has also made himself available for Rypien in the passing game. Boise’s tailback has caught 32 passes for 450 yards and four touchdowns.
Offense: Boise State – McNichols has been incredible this season.
Defense: Boise State – The Broncos are No. 29 in scoring defense, allowing 22.7 points per game.
Special Teams: Boise State – Jonathan Moxey and Wilson are explosive in the return game.
Coaching: Boise State – Bryan Harsin may be a candidate for the Oregon job, but he’s still with the Broncos for now and has done a great job.
Matchup To Watch
Brett Rypien vs. Baylor defense
The Bears are going to have a difficult time trying to contain McNichols. He’s not the easiest tailback to bottle up. So, instead, Baylor will have to focus its energy on slowing down Rypien. If it can make the sophomore quarterback force the ball into some tight windows and provide a little pressure in the pocket, Baylor can flip the field and win with points off turnovers.
Spread: No line as of publication
Over/Under: No line as of publication
Baylor vs. Boise State Prediction
This one is going to Boise State. McNichols is simply too much for the Bears to handle. He’ll rush for more than 100 yards and will dart into the end zone three times. Rypien will protect the ball and will drop dimes all over the field. He’ll find Sperbeck for one of his two touchdowns, and the Broncos will cruise to an easy victory.
Baylor vs. Boise State Score Prediction: Boise State 42, Baylor 27
Campus Insiders Staff Picks
Brian Stultz: Boise State
Rich Cirminiello: Boise State
Robert Judin: Boise State
Pete Fiutak: Boise State