NCAA Free Pick and Prediction Bowl Game
Washington State Cougars (6-6) vs. Colorado State Rams (7-6) 12/21- 2:00PM EST
Line: WASH ST: -4.5
GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL- Albuquerque, NM
The Washington State Cougars and Colorado State Rams will kickoff the bowl season on Saturday with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl and both teams are excited about getting into a bowl game and turning their football programs around.
Colorado State coach Jim McElwain and Washington State coach Mike Leach, both in their second-year agree that the bowl matchup is a sign of things changing for both struggling programs, where the Rams (7-6) haven’t been to a bowl game since 2008 and for the Cougars (6-6), it’s been a decade since they tasted the postseason.
“One of the accomplishments you want early is to get in a bowl game and be part of that club,” McElwain told reporters. “There’s a certain aura that comes with being a bowl team.”
McElwain was the offensive coordinator with Alabama during the Crimson Tide’s BCS national championships in 2009 and 2011, and knows the importance of a bowl appearance for a program when it comes to recruiting.
Coach Leach says his players are made up of largely of freshman and sophomores, but knows his seniors have been through “rough dry times” and haven’t had the opportunity to play in a bowl game. “They’ve never been in a bowl and (had) hoped they would,” Leach said. “Talking about it and actually doing it are two different things.”
Players to watch for the Rams will be running back Kapri Bibbs, who leads all of college football with 28 rushing touchdowns with 1,572 yards on the ground and quarterback Garrett Grayson, who ranks among the nation’s top 20 in passing yards (3,3270). The Rams set a school record with four games scoring 50 or more points and is the only school to have a 3,000 yard passer and 1,500 yard runner in a single season this year.
For the Cougars, they are led by junior quarterback Conner Halliday who operates the spread offense and is ranked fourth nationally in passing yards (4,187) and with 28 touchdowns, is tied for 13th.
Let’s not forget, this is this same Washington State Cougars that played the Auburn Tigers in their first game of the season in which they lost in a heartbreaker 31-24.
“We should have won that game,” Leach said.
The Cougars like their chances going in on Saturday and feel they were battle tested all year having played four opponents that appear in the top 16 of the BCS standings and so do the oddsmakers who have made them the early (minus -4.5) point favorite. Get the latest spread on the game up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.
Expect both teams to showcase their high-powered offense come Saturday and McElwain says his defense will have to be ready.
“I know they throw the heck out of it,” McElwain said. “I know (Leach) isn’t afraid to throw it and he’ll probably throw it coming off the bus.”
I too, like the battle tested Cougars and predict a high scoring affair with the Cougars taking home the trophy.
Prediction/Pick: Washington State
By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter