Arizona Bowl Canceled: Boise State Withdraws, Central Michigan Heads To Sun Bowl

Written By C.J. Pierre on December 28, 2021
College Football Arizona Bowl Boise State Central Michigan

The Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl is officially off.

The game was supposed to feature the Central Michigan Chippewas and the Boise State Broncos facing off at Arizona Stadium in Tucson on Friday night.

However, Boise State had to pull out of the game due to a COVID-19 outbreak in its program. This news put the state of the college football bowl game in limbo.

The game was pulled from legal sports betting apps in Arizona while officials searched for solutions. Unfortunately, it was too little too late, as the Chippewas decided to go a different route, leaving the Arizona Bowl with only one option: cancellation.

Central Michigan heads to Sun Bowl to face Washington State

The Central Michigan football team arrived in Tucson on Sunday. Meanwhile, Boise State, which had not even traveled to the Grand Canyon State, didn’t have enough eligible players because of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Washington State Cougars are at the Sun Bowl site in El Paso, Texas, but were without an opponent. Their scheduled opponent, the Miami Hurricanes, called off its trip as it, too, couldn’t field a team as a result of coronavirus.

When push came to shove, arrangements were made to send Central Michigan to Texas to face the Cougars. Tucson and El Paso are about a four-and-a-half-hour drive apart.

It’s not a bad matchup. Central Michigan finished 8-4, while Washington State went 7-5. Both teams have been practicing and preparing for games. However, it will be a quick turnaround to prep for a brand-new, unexpected opponent.

There could have been financial incentives playing a role in where this matchup ended up. The payout for the Arizona Bowl stood at $350,000, while the purse for the Sun Bowl climbs to $4.55 million.

The Sun Bowl, also scheduled to be played Friday, is set to air on CBS. Meanwhile, the Arizona Bowl would have been the only bowl game not on linear TV and was scheduled to be streamed on YouTube and on the Barstool Sports digital platform.

Arizona Bowl or Sun Bowl? It came down to the money

Barstool founder Dave Portnoy had tweeted out that the Arizona Bowl was actively seeking a replacement team to face the Chippewas. One of his first follow-up tweets tagged Nebraska. The Cornhuskers finished the regular season with a 3-9 record and only one win in Big Ten Conference play.

Portnoy tried to preserve the first bowl game with Barstool Sports as a title sponsor. However, it wasn’t going to be an easy fix. Any replacement would have been a team that hasn’t practiced in several weeks and likely has most of its players at home for the holidays.

In his initial tweet, Portnoy suggested that Washington State do a poll of its players on if they want to play in the Arizona Bowl or the Sun Bowl.

Once the news broke that Central Michigan was heading to El Paso, Portnoy tweeted that it was Sun Bowl or nothing for the Cougars and that the Chippewas were willing to move. He added that, in the end, it came down to money.

COVID-19 outbreaks have already canceled three other bowl games: the Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24, Hawaii-Memphis), Military Bowl (Dec. 27, Boston College-East Carolina) and Fenway Bowl (Dec. 29, Virginia-SMU).

The Gator Bowl was at risk of being canceled but was able to survive with Rutgers replacing Texas A&M in the game against Wake Forest on Dec. 31.

Barstool loses bowl game, but Barstool Sportsbook bettors get a win

No doubt all AZ online sportsbooks were looking forward to the regional college football bowl game. But Barstool’s pain is a Barstool bettor’s gain.

While the brand lost out on sponsoring a bowl game, Barstool Sportsbook had Arizona Bowl odds and attached several promotions to the game.

With the Arizona Bowl now off the books, Barstool marks the canceled CMU-Boise State matchup as a winner for anyone who picked either team as part of a three-game “AZ Bowl” promotional parlay through the sportsbook. That promo also includes the two national semifinal games scheduled for New Year’s Eve.

With the promo, first-time Barstool bettors could wager ten cents to win $1,000 if they hit all three legs.

Photo by AP / Steve Conner
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C.J. Pierre

CJ Pierre is a multimedia journalist currently residing in the Phoenix-Metro Area in Arizona. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. CJ has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career. Most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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