PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 02: Head coach Matt Rhule of the Temple Owls reacts during the game against the Army Black Knights at Lincoln Financial Field on September 2, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Black Knights defeated the Owls 28-13. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Matt Rhule manages to keep Baylor roster largely in place

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Barring any more changes in the days to come, Matt Rhule has managed to succeed in one of his first jobs at Baylor. That task is keeping the roster together. Consider that one mission accomplished following the announcement by one player confirming he will not be transferring to a new program in 2017.

Cornerback Jordan Tolbert, who had previously thought to be considering a transfer out of Waco, announced via Twitter he will in fact be staying put right where he is. The return of Tolbert will help keep the Baylor secondary with some solid depth in the new season even if he does not make a push for a starting job.

With Tolbert planning to stay put, it would appear Rhule will keep his inherited roster in place with one notable exception. Wide receiver KD Cannon previously announced his declaration to enter the 2017 NFL Draft, leaving Baylor a year early. He is the only player from Baylor set to leave the program early as Rhule gets settled in with his new staff. Now, the more challenging job becomes scratching together a recruiting class with just weeks to go until National Signing Day. According to Rivals, Baylor’s Class of 2017 currently holds eight commitments, highlighted by four-star New Jersey defensive back Harrison Hand (the other seven commitments all come from Texas). Baylor’s recruiting class was decimated as the school was being rocked by a scandal that led to the dismissal of former head coach Art Briles.

Helmet sticker to Reddit.

Coming off dominating bowl performance, Baylor WR KD Cannon declares for NFL draft

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 27:  Wide receiver KD Cannon #9 of the Baylor Bears reacts after scoring on a 30 yard touchdown reception over safety Davion Hall #2 of the Baylor Bears during the first quarter of the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl at Chase Field on December 27, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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KD Cannon‘s scintillating performance Tuesday night turned out to be his final act on the collegiate stage.

On his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, the Baylor wide receiver confirmed that he will forego his remaining eligibility and make himself available for the 2017 NFL draft. “Thank you, BAYLOR NATION, for always standing strong behind me and never giving up on this wonderful football program,” a portion of Cannon’s social media missive rad. “We have endured so much during the last couple of seasons and I am proud to say that my brothers and I kept our heads held high.”

Cannon set career highs this season in receptions (87), receiving yards (1,215) and receiving touchdowns (13). 14 of those receptions, 226 of the yards and two of the scores came in Baylor’s upset of Boise State in the Cactus Bowl last night.

For his three-year Bears career, Cannon finished with 195 catches for 3,113 yards and 27 touchdowns.

KD Cannon a thorn in Boise State’s side as Baylor takes Cactus Bowl

Baylor wide receiver KD Cannon (9) catches a 30-yard touchdown pass against Boise State cornerback Jonathan Moxey (2) during the first quarter of the Cactus Bowl NCAA college football game Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016 in Phoenix. (David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via AP)
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Bowl games can often be completely separate animals from the regular season, and no one will prove that phenomenon more true this winter than Baylor. A team that arrived in Phoenix on a 6-game losing streak played like the Big 12 title contender many expected it to be, beating Boise State 31-12 in the Cactus Bowl.

Baylor playing like Baylor again started with getting the ball in the hands of the type of player that dominated games during the Bears’ salad days — wide receiver KD Cannon. The junior caught 14 passes for 226 yards and two crucial first half touchdowns — a 30-yarder to open the scoring in the first quarter and a 68-yard connection to stretch the lead to 14-3 with 12:14 to play in the half.

In addition to not covering Cannon, Boise State was undone by Brett Rypien‘s inability to hold on to the football inside scoring territory. The Broncos’ quarterback tossed first half two interceptions inside Baylor’s 5-yard line and lost a fumble at the Bears’ 16, ending any hopes of a comeback early in the fourth quarter. Rypien’s second pick came inside the end zone and led to an, ahem, controversial 99-yard drive for the Bears’ final score of the half.

Baylor was initially stopped at its own 21 but received new life when Drew Galitz drew a running into the kicker flag, a 5-yard penalty on a 4th-and-4, despite ESPN replays showing clearly no Boise State player actually touched Galitz. The flag stood, though, and JaMychal Hasty ended the 15-play march with a 5-yard scoring dash with 4:19 to play in the half.

Boise State added a second Tyler Rausa field goal, a 26-yard chip shot, to close the first half and opened the second half with a 13-play drive that ended on a turnover on downs when Bryan Harsin eschewed a third field goal try in favor of a fourth-and-goal pass that was broken up by defensive back Ryan Reid. Baylor answered with an un-Baylor-like 21-play drive culminating in a 34-yard Chris Callahan field goal at the 3:19 mark of the third quarter.

Baylor (7-6) closed the door for good after Rypien’s fumble with a 12-play, 71-yard drive that closed with a Zach Smith 14-yard scoring strike to Ishmael Zamora with 10:03 remaining. Smith played the best game of his young career, completing 28-of-39 passes for 375 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Terence Williams, receiving a full work load after Shock Linwood chose to stay home, toted 25 carries for 103 yards.

Rypien (31-of-50 for an even 300 yards) added a cosmetic score when he hit Cedrick Wilson for a 28-yard score with 1:20 to play. His 2-point pass was, fittingly, intercepted.

Playing in the final game of his Boise State careerJeremy McNichols posted a quiet night of 19 carries for 46 yards with five grabs for 24 more yards.

The loss for Boise State (10-3) was a rare one in a metropolitan area that hosted many of the orange and blue’s greatest moments over the past decade. The Broncos are 3-0 in Fiesta Bowls played at University of Phoenix Stadium in nearby Glendale, while Tuesday night’s loss came at Phoenix’s Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Baylor overpowering mistake-prone Boise State in Cactus Bowl

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 12:  KD Cannon #9 of the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Baylor has looked nothing like the team that finished on a 6-game losing streak, leading Boise State 21-6 halfway through the Cactus Bowl.

Wide receiver K.D. Cannon has dominated Boise State’s secondary, catching eight passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns — a 30-yarder to open the scoring in the first quarter and a 68-yard connection to stretch the lead to 14-3 with 12:14 to play in the half.

Boise State has shot itself in the foot repeatedly in the first half, as Brett Rypien has tossed two interceptions inside the Baylor 5-yard line. The second pick came inside the end zone and led to an, ahem, controversial 99-yard drive for the Bears’ final score of the half.

Baylor was initially stopped at its own 21 but received new life when Drew Galitz drew a running into the kicker flag, a 5-yard penalty on a 4th-and-4, despite ESPN replays showing clearly no Boise State player actually touched Galitz. The flag stood, though, and JaMychal Hasty ended the 15-play march with a 5-yard scoring dash with 4:19 to play in the half.

Boise State added a second Tyler Rausa field goal with 11 seconds left in the second quarter. The Broncos will receive to open the second half.

Baylor’s Shock Linwood latest to join parade of RBs skipping bowl games

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 02:  Shock Linwood #32 of the Baylor Bears runs the ball against Ralpheal Green #2 of the Northwestern State Demons in the first half at McLane Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Leonard Fournette begat Christian McCaffrey, and now the two of them have given permission for Baylor running back Shock Linwood to skip his bowl game, too.

Linwood made the announcement Tuesday that he join his team for the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.

There are differences between Fournette and McCaffrey’s decisions and Linwood’s. The first two are viewed as likely first-round picks. Linwood? Not exactly. Notice the “possible” in Waco Tribune-Herald writer John Werner’s tweet above.

Most importantly, Linwood is a senior that has fallen out of favor with the Bears’ coaching staff of late. Baylor’s leading rusher in 2014 and ’15, Linwood has ceded carries to sophomore Terence Williams down the stretch, totaling eight or fewer carries in three of his final four games.

On top of that, Baylor stumbled to a 6-6 finish, dipping from Fiesta, Cotton and Russell Athletic bowl appearances in Linwood’s first three seasons to the Cactus Bowl this season.

Still, it’s unlikely Linwood would opt out of his bowl game had Fournette and McCaffrey not done the same.

Linwood finishes his collegiate career with 699 carries for 4,166 yards and 79 touchdowns. A two-time All-Big 12 honoree, Linwood is Baylor’s all-time record holder in rushing yardage and touchdowns.

The remaining portion of Baylor’s roster will meet Boise State next Tuesday at 10:15 p.m. ET (ESPN).