Washington State Looks to Repeat Success from 2015 Sun Bowl
The game is on!
The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl will feature Washington State (7-5) and Central Michigan (8-4), which was added earlier this week after Boise State pulled out of the Arizona Bowl. Both teams needed an opponent and the four-hour trip to El Paso from Tucson was a no-brainer for the Chippewas.
Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Sun Bowl. The game will be televised on CBS.
Check out Steve’s preview on Central Michigan.
Let’s dive into the Cougars.
How the season went
The Cougars lost three of their first four games to start the season, including losses to Utah State (26-23), USC (15-14) and Utah (24-13). Then, they reeled off three straight wins against California, Oregon State and Stanford by a combined score of 86-61.
The team experienced some off-the-field drama when previous coach Nick Rolovich was fired for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in compliance with Washington’s employee mandate state-wide.
After Rolovich was fired, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Jake Dickert was named acting head coach. The squad wrapped up the year 3-2, including a 34-21 win over Arizona State and a 40-13 drubbing over rivals Washington. The Cougars had lost seven straight in the Apple Cup prior to winning this year.
Washington State offensive outlook
The Washington State offense runs under quarterback Jayden de Laura, who has been great all year. The Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year leads the conference in passing touchdowns (23), passing yards (2,751) and passing yards per game (250.1).
Running back Max Borghi is seventh in the Pac-12 for rushing yards (880) and sixth in rushing touchdowns with 12. Wide receiver Calvin Jackson Jr. totaled 955 receiving yards this year and fellow wideout Travell Harris leads the team with 73 receptions and averages 66.8 receiving yards per game.
Cougars on defense
Washington State is fourth in the country and first in the Pac-12 with 27 takeaways on the year. Linebacker Jamal Woods is an absolute stud and racked up 100 tackles this year. EDGE Ron Stone Jr. finished with 11.5 tackles for losses and five sacks to lead the squad.
They will be tasked in slowing down CMU running back Lew Nichols III, who has 1,710 rushing yards (1st in the nation) and 15 rushing touchdowns.
Cougars in the Sun Bowl
This Washington State program is no stranger to the 915. In fact, the Cougars are making their third Sun Bowl appearance. They have won their first two Sun Bowl contests against Purdue (2001, 33-27) and Miami (2015, 20-14). This is the first time Washington State plays Central Michigan in program history.
This is also the sixth bowl game for Wazzu in the last seven seasons. They are 8-8 overall in bowl games.