Boise State vs. Baylor: 3 reasons to check out the Cactus Bowl

Posted at 11:45 AM, Dec 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-27 17:44:57-05

No, it's not the Fiesta Bowl, and we're not going to pretend it is.

But the late-night Motel 6 Cactus Bowl between the 10-2 Boise State Broncos and the 6-6 Baylor Bears certainly carries enough intrigue to make it worth your time.

For starters, neither team is a stranger to the Valley, as Boise State and Baylor competed in the Fiesta Bowl two and three years ago, respectively. (The Broncos won; the Bears lost.)

Here are three more reasons to buy a ticket to the Cactus Bowl or tune in to ESPN for the game, which begins at 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday at Chase Field in Phoenix.

1. The local guys.

This will be the second bowl game back in the Valley for Boise State tight end and Scottsdale Chaparral High School graduate Jake Roh. The 6-foot-3, 227-pound junior caught two passes in the Broncos' win over Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl two years ago, and he has four catches for 59 yards this season.

Other Broncos returning to the Valley include a pair of freshmen: offensive lineman Austin Dixon from Corona Del Sol HS in Tempe, and wide receiver Julian Carter from Saguaro HS in Scottsdale. Also, Boise State junior wide receiver Austin Cottrell played at Scottsdale Community College.

Baylor has one former Valley resident on its roster: junior offensive lineman Harrison Fox, who attended Horizon HS in Scottsdale. Fox has played in three games this season.

2. Points.

Last year's Cactus Bowl saw both teams light up the scoreboard as West Virginia edged Arizona State 43-42. There's no reason not to expect a similar scoreline this year.

Both teams are among the top one-third in the NCAA in points per game: Boise State is 24th (35.6) and Baylor is 35th (33.1). The Broncos' defense is one of the nation's better units, but they haven't faced many offenses as high-powered as Baylor's this season.

No, this game won't be as well played as Saturday's Fiesta Bowl will be -- but if you're a fan of shootouts, there's a good chance you'll enjoy Tuesday night's matchup.

3. Boise loves AZ.

The Valley has become Boise State's home away from home, as the Broncos have made three trips to the Fiesta Bowl in the last nine years. They won all three of those matchups: vs. Oklahoma in 2007, vs. TCU in 2010 and vs. Arizona in 2014.

This will be Boise State's first Cactus Bowl appearance, but it's fair to say the Broncos have made themselves at home in Phoenix, and the seniors on the team will look to cap their collegiate careers with a second victory in Arizona.

Between ending its the season with six straight losses and seeing its head coach fired amid a sexual assault scandal, Baylor has had a miserable few months on and off the field. The Bears would love nothing more than to ruin the Broncos' unblemished Valley record and end their own season on a positive note.