Dec 30, 2022; Tucson, AZ, USA; Wyoming Cowboys quarterback Andrew Peasley (6) runs the ball against Ohio Bobcats safety Tariq Drake (11) and cornerback Austin Brawley (21) in the first half of the 2022 Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio edges Wyoming in Arizona Bowl

CJ Harris’ 10-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Foster gave Ohio a 30-27 overtime win Friday over Wyoming in the Arizona Bowl at Tucson, Ariz.

Harris, who completed 20 of 33 attempts for 184 yards and two touchdowns, found Foster in the back of the end zone over defender Shae Suiaunoa. It was Foster’s first catch of the game.

Wyoming’s opening possession in overtime ended with John Hoyland’s 29-yard field goal after the Cowboys stalled following Andrew Peasley’s 13-yard pass to Ryan Marquez.

Sieh Bangura rushed for 138 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown for Ohio (10-4).

The Bobcats reached 10 wins in a season for the first time since finishing 10-4 in 2011.

Jordon Vaughn, who did not play in a game during the regular season, rushed for two touchdowns including a 5-yard touchdown run with 2:08 left in regulation that put Wyoming (7-6) ahead 24-21.

Vaughn, the starter at running back after the Cowboys’ top four rushers were not in uniform, also scored on a 17-yard run in the first possession of the game.

Wyoming’s leading rusher Titus Swen (1,039 yards rushing) was dismissed from the team for violating an undisclosed team policy. Backups Dawaiian McNeely (356 yards) and DQ James (346) are injured and Joseph Braasch (91) entered the transfer portal.

Vaughn, a redshirt freshman, finished with 67 yards on 16 carries.

His 5-yard touchdown run with 2:08 left capped a six-play, 75-yard drive after Wyoming had only 17 yards of total offense previously in the second half.

Ohio’s Nathanial Vakos made his third field goal of the game, a 45-yarder, with four seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Ohio Bobcats quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) is pressured by Penn State Nittany Lions defensive tackle Hakeem Beamon (51) during the first quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Wyoming eyes fourth straight bowl win vs. Ohio in Arizona Bowl

Ohio wants to cap its successful turnaround season with a victory in the Arizona Bowl while Wyoming seeks to end its tumultuous year with its fourth straight bowl win in Friday’s game in Tucson, Ariz.

Ohio went from 3-9 last season to 9-4 this year, earning Tim Albin MAC Coach of the Year honors in his second season.

Fourth-year quarterback Kurtis Rourke was selected the MAC’s Offensive Player of the Year while running back Sieh Bangura was chosen the conference’s Freshman of the Year.

Rourke will not play in the Arizona Bowl because of a torn meniscus and ACL suffered last month. He passed for 3,256 yards (completing 244 of 353 attempts) with 25 touchdowns and four interceptions.

CJ Harris is his replacement. He has passed for 393 yards while completing 32 of 64 passes with one touchdown and one interception.

Bangura has rushed for 940 yards on 107 carries with seven touchdowns.

“This team has brought me, our staff and the Bobcats fans so much fun and joy this season,” Albin said. “We can’t wait to take this show on the road to take the next step on our journey together.”

Wyoming (7-5) qualified for its second consecutive bowl game and third in four seasons.

The Cowboys are coming off a 30-0 loss at Fresno State last month to end the regular season.

“I’m so thankful that we got a bowl opportunity and for us to get this bad taste out of our mouth and play better,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said after the loss to Fresno State.

Wyoming will be without top rusher Titus Swen, who finished the regular season with a team-high 1,039 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

He was dismissed from the team last month for violating team rules. The junior entered the transfer portal shortly after being cut from the team.

The Cowboys have three other players who have rushed for at least 300 yards, including quarterback Andrew Peasley with 330 yards on 70 carries.

Dawaiian McNeely has rushed for 356 yards on 63 rushes and D.Q. James has ran the ball 40 times for 346 yards.

But both McNeely and James are injured and not expected to play. Fourth-string running back Joseph Braasch (91 yards on 29 carries) is slated to start.

Wyoming is 9-8 in bowl games with victories in their last three, including a 38-17 win over Georgia State in the 2019 Arizona Bowl.

Bohl, who’s in his ninth season as head coach at Wyoming, is 3-1 in bowl games with the Cowboys.

He shares a past with Albin, who is coaching in his first bowl game.

Bohl was the defensive coordinator at Nebraska from 2000 to 2002, the same time frame Albin was a graduate assistant with the Cornhuskers. Albin was also the offensive coordinator and running backs coach at North Dakota State in 2004, when Bohl was the head coach of the Bison.

“Craig Bohl has been a friend and mentor to me for over 20 years,” Albin said. “He builds teams just like ours: tough, competitive and relentless. The game will be a great challenge for our players and an exciting conclusion to our season.”

Ohio, which has a bowl record of 5-8, and Wyoming have faced each other twice previously in a home-and-home arrangement in 2007 and 2008.

Wyoming won both — 34-33 at Athens, Ohio, in 2007 and 21-20 at Laramie, Wyo., in 2008.

“I’m just glad we get one more shot at (ending with a win),” Wyoming All-Mountain West first-team linebacker Easton Gibbs said. “I’ll just come out looking to finish strong and kind of put a cap on what I think has been a good season for us. I’m looking forward to that.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 29, 2018; Laramie, WY, USA; A general view of the Boise State Broncos helmet against the Wyoming Cowboys at Jonah Field War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State backs out of Arizona Bowl

Boise State announced Monday it was backing out of this week’s Arizona Bowl at Tucson after COVID-19 issues within the program.

The Broncos were set to face Central Michigan in Friday’s game, which was still scheduled to be played Monday when Boise State withdrew.

Arizona Bowl options to replace the Broncos include finding another opponent to face Central Michigan or to have the Chippewas face Washington State, who are in limbo after Miami backed out of the Sun Bowl.

Tucson and El Paso, Texas — site of the Sun Bowl — are about 300 miles apart, making it feasible for one team to travel by bus to face the other.

Boise State began COVID-19 testing procedures Sunday, according to the Arizona Daily Star, with some positive cases. Testing continued into Monday before the team announced it would not make its scheduled Tuesday trip to the desert.

Central Michigan arrived at Tucson on Sunday.

Three bowl games already have been canceled: Fenway Bowl, Military Bowl, Hawaii Bowl. The Gator Bowl was in limbo after Texas A&M backed out, with Rutgers added as a replacement to face Wake Forest.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Central Michigan Chippewas running back Lew Nichols III (7) runs the ball against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State hopes to slow CMU’s Lew Nichols III in Arizona Bowl

The Arizona Bowl won’t be found on ESPN or any other networks that typically air college football bowl games.

Instead, the Dec. 31 Boise State-Central Michigan matchup at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, home the Pac-12’s Arizona Wildcats, will be seen on the controversial Barstool Sports, the title sponsor of the game this year.

According to USA Today, it will be the first major college football bowl game in at least 40 years that will not be shown on traditional television, cable or satellite TV channels.

People with ties to both schools have expressed concern over the website’s involvement, but at this point, the only thing that could stop the game from being played is an abundance of the positive COVID-19 tests that are all over sports at present.

Central Michigan (8-4) won four straight games to end the regular season, but the Chippewas are only 3-9 all-time in bowl games. They are led by running back Lew Nichols III, who was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year after leading the nation in rushing yards (1,710), carries (311) and yards per-game average (142.5). Nichols also leads the nation in all-purpose yards with 2,010.

The Chippewas leaned hard on Nichols down the stretch of their season. He rushed 43 times for 215 yards and four touchdowns against Kent State, then had 32 carries for 219 yards and three touchdowns at Ball State before ending the year with 194 yards and a score on 44 attempts against Eastern Michigan.

“I kind of just pulled him aside and said, ‘Look, here we go, let’s jump on your back and ride,’” Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain said, according to the Detroit News. “I’ve been at some pretty good places, had a Heisman Trophy winner (Mark Ingram Jr. in 2009, when he was an assistant at Alabama), and had some other things.

“But to lead the nation in rushing, that’s a heck of a feat.”

Boise State (7-5) is a perennial contender in the Mountain West with a fan base that typically travels well, especially to games in the western United States. First-year head coach Andy Avalos, a former star linebacker for the Broncos, guided them to a bowl game despite a tough schedule.

Boise State defeated eventual Mountain West champion Utah State and Top 25 teams BYU and Fresno State this season.

The Broncos are making their 19th appearance in a bowl game in the past 20 years, after players voted not to play in a bowl game last season.

“I think that was a learning experience for a lot of the people that were here,” Avalos said, according to the Idaho Statesman. “That goes back to living in grace and being thankful for the opportunity to continue to be around each other.”

Boise State hopes to get back quarterback Hank Bachmeier from an injury sustained in the final game of the regular season. Bachmeier threw for 3,079 yards and 20 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 12 games this season, averaging 256.6 passing yards per game.

–Field Level Media

Jun 3, 2021; Miami Beach, Florida, USA; Bar Stool Sports founder Dave Portnoy stands in the ring at World Famous 5th St. Gym. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Barstool to broadcast Arizona Bowl online as new sponsor

Barstool Sports is not only the new title sponsor of the Arizona Bowl in Tucson, but also its exclusive broadcast partner.

Barstool president Dave Portnoy said that as part of the sponsorship arrangement, his media company agreed to stream the Arizona Bowl on its website, app and social media.

“We control everything,” Portnoy said in a video on Twitter. “The bowl, the broadcast, the halftime show, the national anthem. We are getting into the live sports broadcast game.”

The Barstool Arizona Bowl is scheduled for Dec. 31. In the past, the game has pitted a Mountain West team against a Mid-American Conference team.

Portnoy said it was a multi-year agreement. Further financial details have not been disclosed.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2020; Tucson, AZ, USA; San Jose State Spartans tight end Derrick Deese Jr. (87) is upended against the Ball State Cardinals in the first half of the Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ball State captures first bowl win in history vs. No. 22 San Jose State

No. 22 San Jose State was in a bind before Thursday’s Arizona Bowl started with eight coaches and players not available for undisclosed reasons, which contributed to the Spartans’ 34-13 loss to Ball State in Tucson.

Behind Drew Plitt’s 217 yards on 12-of-19 passing, the Cardinals (7-1) achieved their first bowl victory in program history and are now 1-8-1.

A few minutes before kickoff, San Jose State (7-1) announced offensive and defensive coordinators — Kevin McGiven and Derrick Odum, respectively — and Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Cade Hall, a defensive end, were unavailable for the game.

Also not in Arizona Stadium were receiver Bailey Gaither, running back/kickoff returner Shamar Garrett, safety Tre Jenkins and offensive linemen Kyle Hoppe and Tyler Stevens.

Hall led San Jose State this season with 10 sacks and 12 tackles for loss and was named a first-team All-America this week by the Sporting News.

The Spartans also lost tight end Derrick Deese, who had a team-high five touchdown receptions entering the game, after he hurt his neck early in the first quarter while making a reception.

Ball State stunned San Jose State with a 27-0 lead in the first quarter, and it maintained that advantage at halftime.

Antonio Phillips started the scoring returning an interception 53 yards to the end zone with 12:47 left in the first quarter.

Nick Starkel, the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, threw the pick. He completed 25 of 42 passes for 268 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. He sat out a possession in the second quarter because of a knee injury.

Will Jones and Tye Evans each scored on 3-yard runs in Ball State’s first two offensive possessions and then Plitt rushed in from a yard on a quarterback sneak to put the Cardinals ahead 27-0 with 1:04 left in the first quarter.

His score occurred six plays after Ball State’s Nic Jones blocked a punt, giving the Cardinals the ball at the San Jose State 35.

Plitt’s 48-yard touchdown pass to Yo’Heinz Tyler with 9:42 left in the third quarter increased the lead to 34-0.

Charlie Bostic followed with a 99-yard kickoff return to put San Jose State on the board. A 2-point conversion pass failed.

Starkel’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Jermai Braddock with 1 second left in the third quarter completed the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2020; San Jose, California, USA;  San Jose State Spartans quarterback Nick Starkel (17) passes the football during the first quarter against the UNLV Rebels at CEFCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 San Jose State, Ball State embrace trip to Arizona Bowl

San Jose State coach Brent Brennan and Ball State coach Mike Neu have never coached against each other because they have primarily operated in two different regions of the country throughout their coaching careers.

They have achieved similar success, however, with programs that will take part in the Arizona Bowl on New Year’s Eve at Tucson.

“I’ve been following him since he took over there,” Brennan said of Neu, who was hired by Ball State, his alma mater, in 2016. “And there’s a really similar path to ours. I think this is a really fascinating matchup, if you look to where he was in 2017 and ’18. There’s some real similarities there. What they’ve been able to do this year has been awesome.”

The 22nd-ranked Spartans (7-0) were 3-22 in Brennan’s first two seasons in 2017 and 2018. After going 5-7 last season, his team is unbeaten and Mountain West champions for the first time in program history.

Brennan is becoming a noted coaching candidate, specifically at Arizona, where he was a graduate assistant in 2000. He is also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson national coach of the year award.

Neu did not have more than four wins his first three seasons, but last year, the Cardinals went 5-7 and they are 6-1 this season with a Mid-American Conference title for the first time since 1996.

“(Playing in the Arizona Bowl) is a tremendous opportunity for our program,” Neu said. “A lot of hard work has to be done between now and then facing a great opponent in San Jose State. We’re really looking forward to it. A lot a lot of good preparation lies ahead here for the next several days before we get a chance to leave.”

Neu said that preparation includes becoming hydrated to better handle Tucson’s warmer weather than Muncie, Ind., this time of year. The last time Boise State has traveled this far west was in 1993 to play in the Las Vegas Bowl — when Neu was the starting quarterback.

“The first thing when we found out (when the bowl matchup was announced) we saw that it was 76 degrees in Tucson,” Neu said from Muncie, where the high was 44 with precipitation. “The first thing we have to communicate with our young men is hydration. That starts now.”

San Jose State features quarterback Nick Starkel, who completed 32 of 52 passes for 453 yards and three touchdowns in the Mountain West title win over Boise State. He broke former Fresno State star Derek Carr’s championship record of 404 yards passing set in 2013 in win against Utah State.

“Nick has put up a huge year,” said Neu, who was a quarterback coach with the New Orleans Saints before his hire at Ball State. “We’ll have a lot of tape here to study and put a great game plan together and go take on that challenge.”

Ball State quarterback Drew Plitt has also had a productive season passing for 1,937 yards while completing 152 out of 232 pass attempts in only seven games. He has 16 touchdown passes and six interceptions.

–Field Level Media