Mountain West

2016 Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, Boise State vs. Baylor Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl Prediction, Boise State vs. Baylor Game Preview, History, Scores


Three reasons why you should watch the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl between Boise State (10-2) vs. Baylor (6-6), why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.


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Date: Tuesday, December 27th
Game Time: 10:15 pm
Venue: Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ
Network: ESPN

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Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history

The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 20 out of 40

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Motel 6 Cactus Bowl

The Mountain West really, really needs this. Boise State should’ve been in the Cotton Bowl, if not better. It had the schedule and the experience returning to come up with a special season, but it failed late against Wyoming, and struggled against Air Force in a tough loss. The Broncos lost those two games by a total of nine points – that’s how close they were to something amazing. It would be embarrassing to lose to a bad Big 12 team going through the motions.

The Matt Rhule era starts in a few weeks, and the slate gets wiped clean. Before that, it’s a chance for Jim Grobe’s Bears to open things up and make this a wild and crazy game from the start. There’s absolutely nothing to lose here – no one’s playing for 2017 at the moment. It’s been an ugly year on-and-off the field, and now it’s time to let loose. And while this might not be the Art Briles era on the field …

Can Baylor keep cranking up the fun bowl games? The Bears might have lost two of the last three bowls, but over the last five since 2011, they’re 3-2 scoring 67, 49, 42, 41 and 49 points, and the defense gave up points just as quickly. That offense went bye-bye over the second half of this season, but get ready for the attack to crank things up to 11.

Here’s Why Baylor Will Win The Motel 6 Cactus Bowl

Boise State just doesn’t take the ball away. The defense has been good overall, and the offense doesn’t give it up all that much – ten of the 15 turnovers came in three games – but the D has only eight takeaways on the year, and two of them came against Hawaii. Baylor needs all the help it can get when it comes to turnover margin.

So, what actually works on the Baylor offense? The passing game might have taken a hit without Seth Russell around, but the ground attack still works. TCU and Kansas State were able to hold the Bears in check, but Terence Williams should look like a different, even more explosive back now that he’s had time off, and with the backfield all to himself. More on that in a moment.

So, what actually works on the Baylor defense? Not much. However, the secondary has had its moments over the second half of the season backslide. The Texas Techs and Oklahomas of the world have done what they wanted, but the Bears played well against Skyler Howard and West Virginia in the regular season finale. Boise State has an efficient passing game, but it hasn’t faced a nasty pass defense all year.

Here’s Why Boise State Will Win The Motel 6 Cactus Bowl

Penalties, penalties, penalties. Baylor always got flagged under Art Briles, but it made up for it with a bajillion offensive yards. The Bears are dead last in the nation in penalties and penalty yards – committing close to ten a game for 79 yards. Boise State has been air-tight, getting flagged four times for 40 yards a game.

Jeremy McNichols, this game’s for you. Baylor’s defensive front has been destroyed over the second half of the season. Anyone who can run the ball this year has been able to do whatever it wanted. Baylor allowed 200 rushing yards or more eight times in the last ten games, and the two teams that didn’t? Kansas and Texas Tech.

Oh yeah, Jeremy McNichols. The Boise State back deserved more all-star recognition on a national scale. One of the top all-around backs in college football, he took off for 1,663 yards and 23 scores, and caught 32 passes for 450 yards and four touchdowns. A rushing touchdown machine, he has 43 in his last 24 games. This might be his last game with rumors swirling that he’ll leave early for the NFL.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Motel 6 Cactus Bowl

This won’t be last season’s game, but … it’s certainly going to be interesting. Last year, West Virginia and Arizona State closed out the non-playoff portion of the bowl season with one of the most enjoyable firefights of the year – a 43-42 Mountaineer win. It’s asking for too much, but these two teams have just that sort of potential, but …

Boise State, crank up the offense. There’s way, way too much talent and pop to not be far better offensively. The O has been fine, and but the Broncos only blew up the mediocre. The attack should be good enough to put up 42 points or more on someone other than the San Jose States and UNLVs of the world – show it, Broncos.

If it gets the win, it’s time to put Boise State at a whole other level of Group of Five programs. The MAC might be in the New Year’s Six, Houston might have received the national headlines, and San Diego State might have won the last two Mountain West titles, but Boise State has won six of its last seven bowl games, including the Fiesta a few years ago. The Broncos came up with the most dominant performance of the bowl season, crushing Northern Illinois 55-7 in the Poinsettia – the program knows how to prepare.

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Motel 6 Cactus Bowl?

Boise State is too good in bowl games, and it’s not going to stop now.

Will Shock Linwood deciding to sit this out to get ready for the NFL matter for Baylor? Yeah – this is a team that can’t afford to lose any offensive weapons, and Linwood matters. He’ll be missed.

Even so, Baylor has just enough offense to put up big numbers and keep this close and interesting, but the Broncos will come up with an almost perfect balance offensively, and the defense will hold its own on just enough second half drives to keep the game at arm’s length. It’ll be an entertaining game with a nice win for the Mountain West.

Final Score

Boise State 40, Baylor 27

Line

Boise State -7.5, o/u: 67

ATS Confidence: 4
5: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score in your favorite bar
0: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score after covering a College Football Playoff semifinal

Must See Rating: 3
5: New Year’s Eve: Defected In The House, Ministry of Sound, London
0: New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Special Co-Host Kathy Griffin

Get Tickets For The Motel 6 Cactus Bowl

Cactus Bowl History, Results

Jan. 2, 2016 West Virginia 43 Arizona State 42
Jan. 2, 2015 Oklahoma State 30 Washington 22
Dec. 28, 2013 Kansas State 31 Michigan 14
Dec. 28, 2012 Michigan State 17 TCU 16
Dec. 30, 2011 Oklahoma 31 Iowa 14
Dec. 28, 2010 Iowa 27 Missouri 24
Dec. 31, 2009 Iowa State 14 Minnesota 13
Dec. 31, 2008 Kansas 42 Minnesota 21
Dec. 31, 2007 Oklahoma State 49 Indiana 33
Dec. 29, 2006 Texas Tech 44 Minnesota 41 (OT)
Dec. 27, 2005 Arizona State 45 Rutgers 40
Dec. 28, 2004 Oregon State 38 Notre Dame 21
Dec. 26, 2003 California 52 Virginia Tech 49
Dec. 26, 2002 Pittsburgh 38 Oregon State 13
Dec. 29, 2001 Syracuse 26 Kansas State 3
Dec. 28, 2000 Iowa State 37 Pittsburgh 29
Dec. 31, 1999 Colorado 62 Boston College 28
Dec. 26, 1998 Missouri 34 West Virginia 31
Dec. 27, 1997 Arizona 20 New Mexico 14
Dec. 27, 1996 Wisconsin 38 Utah 10
Dec. 27, 1995 Texas Tech 55 Air Force 41
Dec. 29, 1994 BYU 31 Oklahoma 6
Dec. 29, 1993 Kansas State 52 Wyoming 17
Dec. 31, 1992 Washington State 31 Utah 28
Dec. 31, 1991 Indiana 24 Baylor 0
Dec. 31, 1990 California 17 Wyoming 10
Dec. 31, 1989 Arizona 17 N.C. State 10