Teams & Conferences

Cactus Bowl: Baylor 31, Boise State 12, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl: Baylor 31, Boise State 12, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?


Baylor ripped apart Boise State 31-12 in a dud of a Cactus Bowl. What are the five things that matter, and what’s next for 2017?


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Baylor provided a glimpse into the future

Baylor had a lot to do with the total disaster of a bowl game, but the Boise State offense all of a sudden looked like it couldn’t do anything right, and the defense didn’t make any big adjustments to slow down the downfield passing game until it was way too late.

But, maybe we should’ve seen this coming.

Baylor lost to West Virginia, but the defense stepped up in a big way in Morgantown to close out the regular season. At the time, it seemed like an aberration – a bad day by the Mountaineer offense – but the Bear D turned out to step up its focus and its production. This wasn’t the same Baylor team that struggled so much over most of the six-game losing streak, and it’s a credit that the program kept playing so hard with everything about to flip when Matt Rhule taking over. But …

It was a brilliant way for Jim Grobe to close out

Thrown into an impossible situation, Grobe not only had to provide a steady hand after the Baylor nightmare of a finish under Art Briles, but he had to deal with quarterback injuries, recruiting defections, and the negativity that surrounded the program all season long. He always conducted himself with the utmost class – hardly a shocker – and again, consider it a credit to him and the coaching staff that the team played so hard late without anything much to play for.

Shock vs. Jeremy

In every way, Shock Linwood made the correct decision to sit out the game.

If he wants to be a pro, go be a pro and don’t risk injury, and as it turned out, it didn’t matter. Terence Williams ran for 103 yards, and KD Cannon had himself a showcase game, catching 14 passes for 226 yards and two scores to more than pick up the slack.

And then there was the other side.

Boise State RB Jeremy McNichols chose to play his final game despite choosing to leave early for the NFL. He didn’t want to leave his teammates hanging, which was noble, but he played too long in a lost cause. He only ran for 46 yards on 19 carries, and while he didn’t suffer a major injury, it would’ve been tragic if something horrible happened.

Obviously, this isn’t the last time teams and stars prospects are going to be dealing with this.

What’s next for Baylor in 2017?

The Matt Rhule era will start by trying to crank up the defense. With the overall depth an issue, losing Orion Stewart at one safety spot and Ryan Reid at one corner job is a big issue. LB Aiavion Edwards would’ve been a nice piece to work around, but he’s done. However, eight starters return to a D that should improve with the new coaching staff.

Can Zach Smith be the quarterback who cranks up the offense again? He’ll have to earn the starting job, but the backfield should be set despite the early loss of Shock Linwood – the Bears are deep here. Four starters return up front, but the loss of C Kyle Fuller is a massive one. KD Cannon is too good not to be in the NFL next year, but the beats have excellent returning receiving weapons to play around with.

What’s next for Boise State in 2017?

With RB Jeremy McNichols leaving early, can Alexander Mattison be the new Bronco running star? The offense will revolve around QB Brett Rypien, anyway, but he loses top target Thomas Sperbeck. TE Jake Roh is aback, but three starters are done on the line including star right tackle Mario Yakoo and left guard Travis Averill.

The linebacking corps takes a huge hit with the loss of Ben Weaver, and four starters are done on the front seven. The secondary needs work, too, with free safety Chanceller James finished along with corner Jonathan Moxey. In all, just five starters are back on D.