BOISE STATE BRONCOS
RECORD: 10-3 (6-2)
NEXT OPPONENT: N/A
LOCATION: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
BETTING LINE: BSU -8
FINAL LINE SCORE
PLAYER OF THE GAME
KD Cannon: 14 catches, 226 yards, two touchdowns
After dropping a crucial fourth down pass in the first quarter, Cannon was visibly frustrated on the sideline, but he more than made up for it on the next drive when he hauled in a 50 yard catch, followed by an acrobatic touchdown catch to take an early 7-0 lead. What happened next was a record breaking performance for the junior wideout, as he set Baylor bowl records for most receptions and receiving yards in a game. His 226 yards is the second-highest single game total in Baylor history, and a Cactus Bowl record.
TOP PASSER: Zach Smith; 28/39, 375 yards, three touchdowns, one interception
TOP RUSHER: Terence Williams; 25 carries, 103 yards
TOP RECEIVER: KD Cannon (offensive MVP); 14 receptions, 226 yards, two touchdowns
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Tyrone Hunt (defensive MVP); five tackles (four solo), two sacks, two tackles for loss
HONORABLE MENTION: Taylor Young; 17 tackles (12 solo)
BOISE STATE POSITION GROUP RATINGS
OFFENSIVE LINE: The Boise State O-line struggled to get anything going in the run game, and gave up four sacks on the evening.
TIGHT ENDS: See WRs.
RUNNING BACKS: Jeremy McNichols announced last week that he will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft, but McNichols had a lackluster performance in his final game for the Broncos, managing just 46 yards on the night on 19 carries.
QUARTERBACKS: Brett Rypien dropped back to pass 51 times, but he was frequently under pressure and it showed as he threw two interceptions on the evening and the Boise State Broncos were held without a touchdown until the final minute of the game.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Cedrick Wilson led the Broncos receivers in yards, but Thomas Sperbeck led the team in receptions with eight. Neither receiver was able break away for a big play as the Baylor secondary did a great job keeping them contained.
LINEBACKERS: Aside from two runs of 13, and 14 yards, the Broncos defense did a great job of keeping the Bears backfield from exploding for big gains on the ground, as the Bears averaged just 3.3 yards per carry.
SECONDARY: KD Cannon absolutely torched the Broncos secondary. Even in double coverage, Cannon managed to make some incredible catches on his way to a record-breaking performance.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Tyler Rausa nailed two field goals, which were Boise State’s only points for the majority of the game.
COACHING: Bryan Harsin suffered his first bowl game loss as the head coach of the Broncos, but he and his staff should be proud of leading their team to another 10-win season.
Coming in to this match up, few people believed it would be a defensive battle, but that’s exactly how it ended up.
Baylor was coming off of a six-game losing streak, and although a bowl win wouldn’t take that away, it would certainly end the season on a positive note.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of these guys,” Baylor interim head coach Jim Grobe said. “We’ve been through a lot of adversity together. I love every one of these guys and they know that. This is a family win.”
The Bears used a pair of interceptions and some stiff red zone defense to hold the Broncos to just six points for a majority of the game before they hauled in their lone touchdown with 1:20 remaining.
Both teams came in to this match up ranked near the bottom of the league in turnover margin at -7. Baylor’s +2 turnover margin in this game was a huge factor in the win for the Bears.
Boise State struggled in the red zone, settling for two field goals, throwing an interception, and failing to convert on fourth down in four trips.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you’ve got to get points in the red zone,” Boise State head coach Brian Harsin said. “You’re only going to last so long; you’ve got to find a way to put six points on the board.”
The 31-12 loss was the worst postseason loss in Boise State history.
“It certainly slows you when you have those turnovers,” Harsin said. “It slows you, takes points off the board.”
Baylor did their best to keep Boise State in the game, as the Bears were the most penalized team in the nation entering the game, and added to their total with 11 penalties for 125 yards. The Bears finished the season with 129 penalties for 1,068 yards.
Boise State will now be faced with the task of replacing RB Jeremy McNichols and WR Thomas Sperbeck, both players were some of the best in program history. Luckily for the Broncos, QB Brett Rypien is only a sophomore and will likely continue to get better.
For Baylor, a new era begins with head coach Matt Rhule taking over for the Bears. He is still continuing to build his staff, as it looks like none of the former Baylor staff will be retained.
BAYLOR POSITION GROUP RATINGS
OFFENSIVE LINE: The Bears O-line did just enough to get a ground game going and give QB Zach Smith enough time in the pocket to make some great throws.
TIGHT ENDS: See WRs.
RUNNING BACKS: Terence Williams led the Bears with 103 yards, while Ja’Mycal Hasty added 32 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Williams eclipsed 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, ending the season with 1,048.
QUARTERBACKS: Zach Smith ended his freshman campaign with a win, after torching the Broncos for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. New head coach Matt Rhule will likely recruit Smith to remain at Baylor and lead the team in the following years.
WIDE RECEIVERS: KD Cannon had himself a great game, winning offensive MVP honors, and eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark for the second time in his three seasons. It is unclear if Cannon will remain with the Bears for his senior season or leave for the NFL Draft.
DEFENSIVE LINE: The Bears dominated the trenches, often with just three or four rushers. K.J. Smith recorded a sack and a tackle for loss, while defensive end Tyrone Hunt won defensive MVP honors with his five tackles and two sacks.
LINEBACKERS: Taylor Young showed just how important he is to this Bears defense. He was all over the field all night long on his way to a game-leading 17 tackles.
SECONDARY: The Baylor secondary did a great job containing the Broncos duo of Wilson and Sperbeck, keeping them each under 100 yards. Orion Stewart made his sixth interception of the season, and also recovered a fumble for the Bears.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Chris Callahan nailed his lone field goal attempt on the night from 34 yards. Punter Drew Galitz only attempted two punts, but one garnered a running in to the kicker penalty, which led to a Bears first down. Upon replay, it appeared Galitz didn’t get hit at all and managed to fake the hit well enough to draw the penalty flag.
COACHING: Interim head coach Jim Grobe got a win in his final game as head coach before he returns to retirement. The admiration from the players was evident on the sidelines as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The Matt Rhule Era at Baylor has officially begun.