TV Schedule: Saturday December 26, 2:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Stadium: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
Line: Wash St (-3)
The Miami Hurricanes (8-4) and Washington State Cougars (8-4) will meet in El Paso as they both look to end their season on a high note in the Sun Bowl. Entering with the same record doesn’t show that these teams had equally successful seasons, however. It was another down season for Miami; meanwhile it was one of the better seasons in years for the Cougars.
In a normal year, a big team like Miami, who fell short of their goals, may be a bit down heading into their bowl game. However, this isn’t a normal year. This will be interim coach Larry Scott‘s final game, as Mark Richt is ready to take over. It is certainly plausible that the Hurricanes will come out wanting to send Scott off on a high note by putting it all on the line. It’s certainly a big storyline that should not be ignored in this contest.
On the field for Miami, their star is sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya. This game could serve as the springboard for Kaaya as he enters his junior year as a potential highly coveted pro prospect. It could also start his potential Heisman hype. He should be fired up to go in this one. Joining Kaaya on offense is running back Joseph Yearby, who is just shy of getting 1,000 yards rushing on the season. Miami comes into this hot, as they’ve won four of five, and they will look to keep it going and get ready for the new era in 2016.
Washington State comes into this game after having their best season since 2003. Quarterback Luke Falk should be back after missing the final game of the season, and that will be huge for Mike Leach and his pass-heavy attack. Falk had a spectacular year, throwing for 4,266 yards and 36 scores. It’s the kind of numbers that a Leach offense needs from its signal caller. It will certainly be a challenge for the Hurricane defense.
Gabe Marks caught over 1,125 yards worth of passes this season and a whopping 14 scores. He’s joined by Dom Williams and River Cracraft, among others, as Falk’s main targets. When they do decide to run the ball, Washington State has a solid runner in Gerard Wicks, who averaged 5.9 yards per rush over 102 attempts. If they can find a healthy balance, Washington State will be hard to beat at the Sun Bowl.
In the end, both these teams and quarterbacks come in with plenty of motivation and things to prove. It should be a high effort affair that should be fairly high scoring. Whichever team can string together a few defensive stops should be the one to carry that trophy to their locker room.
Prediction: Miami 34, Washington State 31