(Photo via Bryan McMartin)

No Small Potatoes: Boise State hopes for more feathers in it’s cap against Baylor

Bryan Harsin’s Blue Man Group achieved a program first this September when they defeated the Washington State Cougars for the first time in program history after losing the first four match-ups between the schools.

Can they achieve more?

The Boise State Broncos (10-2, 6-2) are set for their Cactus Bowl showdown against the Big 12’s Baylor Bears (6-6, 3-6) today, Tuesday, December 27th at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field in Phoenix.

After the scandal-ridden program reached sixth in the Coaches poll and eighth in the AP poll earlier this season it appeared from a distance that the Bears were ready to make a run at a College Football Playoff berth, or at the very least a berth in a New Years Six Bowl game.

In reality the Bears had just one marginally impressive victory at the time: a 35-24 home win over an Oklahoma State squad that looked as if it would be fighting for bowl eligibly all season and had lost at home to the MAC’s Central Michigan Chippewas who finished the year at 6-6 (albeit as the result of a misinterpreted rule by the officials).

At the end of the season Baylor’s win over the Pokes turned out to be very impressive, and shows the fire-power the Bears have as Mike Gundy’s crew reeled off seven-straight conference victories before losing the de facto-Big 12 title game to the Oklahoma Sooners.

But fire-power doesn’t always equal positive results as this year’s Baylor Bears can attest to.

They will be riding a six-game losing-streak entering their bowl-showdown with Boise State, the wheels having fallen off a team that still averaged the fifth most yards per game (523.3) in all of the FBS.

A main reason for the crash and burn was a defense that ranked 81st in the nation in scoring defense (30.4 PPG) and total defense (434.4 YPG) during the regular season.

After the Bears squandered a season full of massive potential only to limp into their first all-time match-up with the Broncos, the Boys from Waco, Texas hope to right the ship (and post a winning record, or avoid posting a losing record depending on how you chose to look at it) while Boise State will look to add more feathers in it’s “Big Boy School’s Beaten” cap.

A Bronco-victory would give Boise State at least one all-time win against four of the Big 12’s 10 member institutions.

The Broncos have enjoyed impressive success against Power 5 (BCS) conference schools over the past decade-plus.

They are 14-5 against Power 5 competition over the past 10 seasons (18-7 if you include TCU and Utah and 21-9 if you include BYU, as some Power 5 conferences do) with victories over the Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners in 2007, the Pac 10 champion Oregon Ducks in 2009, the ACC champion Virginia Tech Hokies in 2010, the SEC East champion Georgia Bulldogs in 2011, and the Pac 12 South champion Arizona Wildcats in 2014.

Boise State recorded their first Power 5 victory with a 34-16 triumph over the Iowa State Cyclones in 2002, their first Power 5 road victory with a 37-32 win over Oregon in 2008, and currently has a five game winning streak against Power 5 competition.

The Broncos are 9-4 all-time in bowl games against schools that currently reside inside Power 5 conferences.

If Boise State can defeat Baylor they will hold victories over four of the Big 12’s current members, seven of the Pac 12’s current members, two of the ACC’s current members, and one of the SEC’s current members for a total of 14 different Power 5 institutions beaten.

That’s as many Power 5 schools defeated as there are teams in each of the 3 most populated Power 5 conferences.

But most impressive of all: if Boise State can defeat Baylor in the Cactus Bowl today, not only will Bronco Nation receive a belated-Christmas present, it will mark the very first time in program history in which the Broncos will have defeated the combination of three Power 5 schools and BYU in the same season.

Or four Power 5 schools in the same season depending on who’s classification you are using (the B1G, SEC, and ACC consider BYU a Power 5 opponent for scheduling purposes).

Boise State joins Wisconsin, Colorado, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Clemson, Washington, and Alabama as the only 11 teams in the entire nation that can finish the season with at least 11 wins with four or more of them coming over the BYU-classification of Power 5 schools.

Bronco Nation hopes their beloved school adds one more victory to their impressive totals and another feather in it’s cap for the Holidays.


About Robert J Pfeifer

Robert J Pfeifer
Robert was born in Boise and raised in Meridian, Idaho. He spent his whole life in the Treasure Valley before moving away to Moscow for college. He owns his own website where he covers recruiting and writes other in-depth articles about Boise State. He also helps with the Idaho Statesman's High School Football coverage.

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