Converting a baseball park into a football field is far from an easy task, but it did provide a fun and unique atmosphere for the teams and the 33,388 fans in attendance at the D-backs' home field.
Yankee Stadium, Marlins Park and Tropicana Field also hosted or host bowl games this season, but Chase Field was the only park that brought in additional seats as 3,800 extra seats were placed in right-center field, creating better views and atmosphere along the Baylor sideline.
The field, which ran across the diamond with one goal post in left field and the other along the first-base line, was installed a week before the game. Roughly 90,000 square feet of sod was brought in on Dec. 19 and installed over a two-day period, according to Justin Balich, director of game and event operations for the Cactus and Fiesta Bowls.
"Obviously setting up the field so you can fit a football field in a baseball stadium is a challenge," Balich said. "The requirements for a MLB field in playability and balances and stuff like that is probably much higher than you would see in a normal football field. [Football] fields are more about traction."
Junior receiver KD Cannon and freshman quarterback Zach Smith seemed to have plenty of traction as the Baylor duo carved up the Broncos defense. Smith completed 28-of-39 passes for 375 yards and a trio of touchdowns as Baylor clinched its seventh consecutive winning season. Cannon set a Cactus Bowl record with 226 yards and two touchdowns on 14 receptions, while being named the game's offensive MVP.
"They were giving us one-on-one coverage," Smith said. "With KD on anyone one-on-one, we think it's a win for us. I just tried to go to him on some plays and he gets the job done. He's a big playmaker."
Cannon, Smith and the rest of the Bears offense can thank Grant Trenbeath, the head groundskeeper at Chase Field, for the favorable playing surface as Trenbeath and his crew installed the sod on top of the baseball diamond and made all the other necessary changes over the past two weeks.
"Roughly a day to put goal posts in, two days to sod," Trenbeath said. "One day to paint the field, another day for midfield logos and end zones and then a second coat before the game is played."
The Baylor offense got off to a bit of a slow start. The Bears threatened and got inside Boise State's 30-yard line on each of its first two possessions, but came away empty each time. On its third trip down, Smith connected with Cannon for a 30-yard touchdown pass. From there, the Baylor offense kept rolling and the rout was on.
Cannon caught a 68-yard touchdown pass on the next possession as Baylor went through a stretch where it scored on five of six possessions, including 21 points off three Broncos turnovers.