3 takeaways from Baylor's upset win over Boise State in the Cactus Bowl

Posted at 12:10 AM, Dec 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-28 02:24:25-05

The 10-2 Boise State Broncos came in as heavy favorites against 6-6 Baylor.

But it was the Bears who left Chase Field as Motel 6 Cactus Bowl champions in one of the most surprising results of the 2016 bowl season.

In a year that saw the dismissal of head coach Art Briles due to a sexual assault scandal, as well as a six-game losing streak to end the regular season, the Bears ended 2016 with a night to remember, as they routed the favored Broncos 31-12 in front of 33,388 fans in Phoenix.

Here are three big takeaways from Baylor's surprising victory.

1. Baylor cashes in on turnovers.

The Broncos committed three turnovers on Tuesday. The Bears made them pay for each of them. 

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien threw two interceptions and lost a fumble -- and all three of those mistakes were converted into Baylor touchdowns. When the Broncos were flagged for running into the kicker during a first-half Baylor punt, the Bears capitalized on that mistake by scoring a TD on that drive, as well.

Boise State had no answers for Baylor's up-tempo offense led by true freshman QB Zack Smith, who stepped up when Bears starting QB Seth Russell suffered a season-ending injury late in the season. Smith ended the game with 375 yards and three touchdowns.

2. Cannon goes off for Bears.

Wide receiver KD Cannon had a ridiculous night for Baylor, hauling in 14 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns, including this amazing grab in the first quarter to put the Bears on the board.

Cannon's performance marked the first time Boise State yielded 200 receiving yards in a game since ASU's Gerell Robinson racked up 241 yards in the 2011 Las Vegas Bowl.

3. Boise loses bowl game in AZ for first time.

The Valley has become a second home of sorts for the Broncos, and the attendance Tuesday reflected that, as Broncos fans outnumbered the Baylor faithful by at least a 4-to-1 margin.

But there were few Boise fans left in the stadium by the end of the game, as the Broncos lost a bowl game in the Valley for the first time. They have a perfect 3-0 record in Fiesta Bowls, including a win over Arizona two years ago, but their first trip to the Cactus Bowl was unkind.

Boise State had little trouble moving the ball -- they ended the game with nearly 400 yards of offense -- but the Broncos had all sorts of issues finishing drives, ending the game with their lowest point total of the season. Credit Baylor for ending its tumultuous season on a high note, but Boise State fans have to feel a bit embarrassed by their team's performance Tuesday night.