After how their season started, the Washington State Cougars have done well to earn a place in the Holiday Bowl, against the Minnesota Golden Golphers.
When the 2016 season began, many in Pullman thought the Washington State Cougars could be smelling roses. They actually did come within a game of at least playing for the Rose Bowl, finishing second in the PAC-12 North division with an 8-4 record, including 7-2 in conference.
Frankly, the Cougars should feel lucky to be in a nice bowl location against a Big 10 team after how this season started. After falling to 0-2 with losses to Eastern Washington at home and away to Boise State, things looked bleak for WAZZU. However, head coach Mike Leach righted the ship and things took off, as the Cougars busted out eight straight wins.
Back to the present, where Washington State has a date with 8-4 Minnesota out of the Big 10 in the 2016 Holiday Bowl in San Diego, CA. The Golden Gophers are coming off their third eight-win season in four years under first year head coach Tracy Claeys.
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Minnesota is no cupcake of a bowl opponent. This should be a good game. The Cougars have the number two passing offense in the country, while Minnesota has a top-25 defense.
The Gophers’ best win came on the road against Maryland. Make no mistake, they are battle-tested. They only lost by three at Big 10 champion Penn State, while also playing Nebraska and Wisconsin on the road.
The Holiday Bowl has a rich history, with this being the 39th edition of the game. The Cougars played in the game in 1981 and 2003, losing a 38-36 thriller to BYU and beating then number five Texas 28-20 respectively.
The Holiday Bowl has produced a lot of entertaining and even historic games. There was the “Miracle Bowl” when BYU erased a 20-point deficit in four minutes to beat SMU in 1980.
BYU also won the 1984 game, being crowned national champions after the victory over Michigan. BYU also had an epic 13-13 tie with Iowa in 1991, which stands as the last tied football game in major college football bowl history.
This bowl has hosted power matchups. This includes the likes of Oregon vs. Texas, Nebraska vs. Arizona and Baylor vs. UCLA.
However, last year’s might have been one of the most prestigious of all, with USC facing Wisconsin. Overall, Washington State should be proud to play in such a bowl.
The Holiday Bowl is always a good game and it’s a great location. I may be a little biased as a native San Diegan, but can you beat a bowl destination like that?
Make the trip, Coug fans – it will be well worth it. And have a fish taco for me.