NCAA Football

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

Updated December 24, 2021