Looking for an underrated matchup that is sure to put two even teams up against each other? Look no further than the Cactus Bowl. The Washington Huskies had a new head coach in 2014 in Chris Petersen who led them to a solid eight-win campaign while the Oklahoma State Cowboys went from 5-1 to 5-6 in a matter of a month and a half.
Oklahoma State lost its starting quarterback, J.W. Walsh very early into the season, giving way for junior Daxx Garman to assume all starting duties. Garman wasn’t bad in his first few starts, but a cold streak shook the team as he couldn’t sniff a win in the month of November. He finished the season with 2,041 yards, 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while developing a strong connection with wide outs David Glidden and Brandon Sheperd. Glidden caught a team-high 40 passes for 568 yards and two scores while Sheperd led the team with 639 yards and four touchdowns on 34 receptions. Desmond Roland led the run game with 647 yards and 10 scores but Tyreek Hill was the most impressive back, accounting for 534 yards and a touchdown on 5.2 yards per carry.
Washington’s offense this season hasn’t exactly been all that, either. The Huskies had a very mediocre passing attack in terms of yards per game with Cyler Miles under center while having the 40th-ranked rush offense in the country. Miles finished his first year as the team’s starter with 2,129 yards, 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 67 percent of his throws. Miles added another 280 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Jaydon Mickens became the young quarterback’s favorite target, catching 53 passes for 535 yards and three touchdowns while no other receiver had more than 30 receptions. Sophomore running back Dwayne Washington came on strong late in the year, taking over the team lead in rushing with 655 yards and nine scores on 5.5 yards per touch.
Defensively, Oklahoma State has struggled to stay afloat this season. The Cowboys barely became bowl eligible, and the 100th-ranked scoring defense was somewhat to blame — they also rank 95th in total defense. Washington has allowed 406 yards per contest (76th) as well as 24 points per game (47th).
When: 10:15 p.m. EST on Friday, Jan. 2
Where: Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
PREDICTION: Washington 35, Oklahoma State 27
Want to see Washington take on Oklahoma State in the Cactus Bowl? Check out ScoreBig for tickets.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at email@example.com.