Bears 31, Broncos 12
The Baylor Bears and Boise State Broncos met for the first time, at Chase Field, for the Cactus Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona!
...and that was about as excited an exclamation as you’ll get for the game from a Broncos fan. Things started bad and just got worse.
The Bears started the game with the ball, but Chanceller James scored an early INT to steal momentum from a Baylor offense that had easily marched down the field into the Bronco red zone.
Unfortunately, Rypien returned the favor soon after by throwing a pick himself. It hurt, because then the guy that guaranteed the new Baylor coach a win, KD Cannon, reeled in a pass on a 3rd and 25 to draw first blood. He caught the ball right over the top of Moxey’s head, reaching over from behind to snag the pass off his facemask. It was not the best way to be greeted with ESPN finally kicking the game over from Washington State vs Minnesota.
The Broncos did answer fairly immediately, albeit after a long, plodding drive, but unfortunately only with 3. Tyler Rausa from 24 yards out was good.
Tragically, the Bears answered back on a 68 yard TD again. With KD Cannon. Again. So, with 12 minutes left in the half, a singular Baylor Bear had 168 receiving yards and 2 TDs. The Bronco offense, to that point, had managed only 89 yards as a whole.
The Broncos got the ball back and were able to fairly easily plow down the field to get inside the Baylor red zone. And then the happy times ended. Rypien couldn’t quite throw through the 3 defenders surrounding Wilson, and his pass to the end zone was picked off.
The Broncos actually forced a punt after the turnover but, on the actual punt, the ref threw a flag and gave the Bears a first down, despite the punter not even being touched at all by a Bronco defender. This sparked a debate among the announcers about penalties needing to be reviewed. There was no consensus on that point, but there very much was on the call. It was universally panned by all announcers as a terrible officiating fail. It ended up being key for the drive, because a few plays later, Baylor ran it in for six points.
Boise State was able to add another 3 points, in an attempt to stem the bleeding, just before the half.
At the outset of the 3rd quarter, the Broncos came out with some fire and charged down the field!...but then turned the ball over on downs at the Baylor goal line. A fade pass to Wilson couldn’t get reeled in on 4th down.
The Bears responded by burning 5:55 of what was quickly becoming precious game time, driving down the field for more points. Mercifully it was only for 3 though.
Facing a 4th and 10 on the ensuing drive, Chaz Anderson picked a great time to come up clutch, and converted with an excellent reception. Rypien, however, continued his struggles two plays later and fumbled inside of field goal range.
As had become tradition throughout the course of the night, the Bears drove down the field and—you’ll never guess—scored again.
As the 4th quarter drew to a close, the Broncos were able to salvage some semblance of a moral...well ‘victory’ is too strong of a word, but moral ‘momentum’ for sure, when Cedrick Wilson hauled in a 28 yard TD pass from Rypien. However, keeping pace with the rest of the night, the points-after attempt was picked off. It didn’t show up as a 3rd INT for Rypien on the stats sheet, but it would be an understatement to say he had a rough night. He threw for 305 yards and a TD, but also had 2 other picks and a fumble.
31-12, Bears. Ballgame.
It was a game marred by mistakes. The Bronco offense rarely had much trouble moving the ball, but maintaining possession was what killed them. They actually rarely punted, but turned the ball over on fumbles, downs, and interceptions—multiple each of the latter. They also could scarcely secure stops on defense, with the Baylor offense mostly moving the ball at will.
The loss is a disappointing endcap to what’s been widely regarded as a less-than-ideal season. There were certainly some highs, but far too many lows, especially at the end. The Broncos’ 2016 season will go down in the record books as a 10-3 season, but was perplexing on a number of levels. Whatever. In the grand scheme, there’s far worse complaints one could have than a quasi sub-par football season from their team.
Here’s hoping the loss motivates the returning players, ala the MPC Bowl in ‘05, or the TCU Poinsettia in ‘08. In the meantime (and always)...