At first glance, many college football fans might think that a College Football Bowl game being played on December 28th is not really a premier matchup. But this year’s Holiday Bowl, being played on that date in San Diego, is actually a pretty good matchup and a game worth watching. It pairs up two solid 9-3 teams, Washington State and Michigan State, who could probably both make a claim for playing on New Year’s Day.
Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach has brought his Cougars to their 4th bowl game in his 5 seasons at the helm. As usual, Leach has developed a prolific offensive team led by Quarterback Luke Falk. The Cougar passing attack is ranked No. 2 in the nation, and Falk has thrown for almost 3,600 yards and 30 touchdowns on the season.
For the Spartans, Head Coach Mark Dantonio has his team back in a bowl game after a down season in 2016. Dantonio will be looking for his 100th victory as Head Coach of the Spartans and if he gets it, he will have done it with a team that has played a total of 13 true freshman. Actually, this may be one of his best coaching jobs considering this is a very young team overall.
MSU starts sophomore Brian Lewerke at quarterback and the dual threat Lewerke has been better than advertised. Not only has he passed for 2,580 yards and 17 touchdowns, but he is the team’s 2nd leading rusher with 486 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns.
However, both of these teams have had some bad losses which may have hurt them in the bowl selection process. The Cougars three losses were all by 21 points or more while the Spartans took it on the chin from Notre Dame and Ohio State in two of their premier matchups.
So when you have a couple of strong offenses, it’s sometimes which defense plays better that determines the final outcome. MSU was ranked 9th in the NCAA FBS rankings giving up a total of 297.8 yards per game while the Cougars were not far behind at 15th and 313.6 yards per game.
Key defensive players include sophomore linebacker Joe Bachie for the Spartans while for WSU, lineman Hercules Mata’afa is a player to watch (yes his name is actually Hercules).
Washington State is currently listed as a slim 2.5 point favorite with point totals currently sitting at 45.5. Something tells me the football will be flying around SDCCU stadium in this game and the points could be plentiful. Leach loves the pass game and has a quarterback that can sling it. The Spartans will probably try to establish the running game but may have to resort to the pass if they fall behind early. I like the over on the point totals in this one.
Prediction: Washington State to win and cover against the young Spartans in a shootout.