5 Boise State Cactus Bowl Predictions, Storylines

Boise State is set to take on the Baylor Bears in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, so here are some storylines and predictions for the Broncos ahead of the game. 

The 2016 campaign produced more success for Boise State (10-2). The Broncos are now looking to cap off their 19th consecutive winning season with a win against Baylor in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl on Dec. 27.

If they can knock off the Bears in Phoenix, Boise State’s all-time bowl record will improve to 11-5.

However, there are a few more things to know about the Broncos heading into their bowl game. Here are some storylines and predictions to keep in mind.

1. Bryan Harsin’s Perfect Bowl Game Record

He hasn’t coached in many, but Bryan Harsin is undefeated in bowl games. His first win came in 2014 when he led Boise State to a 38-30 win over Arizona in Fiesta Bowl. Then, last year, Harsin took the Broncos to an easy 55-7 win over Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl. No other coach in Boise State history has won his first three bowl games. Dirk Koetter went 2-0. Dan Hawkins started 2-1 and finished 2-2. And Chris Petersen went 1-2 before ultimately finishing 5-2.

2. Brett Rypien’s Big 2017 Season

There has been a lot of talk about this year’s quarterback class, but the 2017 season will yield even more talented passers. Pac-12 stars like Jake Browning, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold will be highlighted, but Brett Rypien has pieced together back-to-back solid seasons. He can take a huge leap forward as a junior next season, and if he posts the same kind of numbers as he has in his first two seasons, Rypien will finish with a projected 10,037 passing yards, 65 passing touchdowns and 62.8 percent of his passes completed.

A year from now, we could be talking about Rypien’s NFL Draft stock taking him into the second round. He can set it all up with a huge performance in the Cactus Bowl.

3. Jeremy McNichols’ NFL Draft Stock

Unlike Rypien, Jeremy McNichols is eligible for the draft now. And even though Donnel Pumphrey is getting the limelight for breaking Ron Dayne’s NCAA rushing record, one could argue that McNichols is the Mountain West’s best running back. McNichols has rushed for 1,663 yards and 23 touchdowns while also racking up 450 receiving yards and four touchdown receptions. This year’s running back class is quite deep, but McNichols could turn himself into a second-day pick if he balls out against Baylor.

4. Gamblin’ Game

The spread for this game opened up with the Broncos as a 9.5-point favorite, but that has since dropped to 7.5 points. The over/under, meanwhile, has dropped from 68 to 67. Keep in mind that Boise State averaged 35.6 points per game while allowing 22.7 (Baylor – 34.9/30.4).

5. Wide Receivers Gone

As big as 2017 could be for Rypien, he’ll likely be missing his top three receivers. Thomas Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson are both graduating, and Cedric Wilson had a huge junior season for the Broncos with 1,041 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Wilson could bolt for the draft and leave Rypien to build relationships with some new pass catchers.

MORE: Baylor vs. Boise State Prediction, Cactus Bowl Preview