Miami vs. Washington State Prediction, Sun Bowl Preview

    Miami vs. Washington State prediction and 2015 Hyundai Sun Bowl preview for the matchup between the Hurricanes and Cougars.

    December 14, 2015

    The Miami Hurricanes (8-4) and the Washington State Cougars (8-4) will be looking for rare postseason victories when they meet for the first time in El Paso. Check out the Miami vs. Washington State prediction and game preview for the 2015 Hyundai Sun Bowl.

    Miami vs. Washington State Game Preview


    Date: Saturday, December 26
    Game Time: 2:00 ET
    Network: CBS

    Follow and/or Contact @Rich Cirminiello

    Why You Need To Care

    It’s been a long time since these two combatants experienced a postseason win, Wazzu back in 2003 and Miami nine years ago prior to dropping five straight bowl games. The Sun Bowl affords both a chance to finally end a season on a high note.

    All things considered, it’s hard not to be a little impressed by the Canes’ 8-4 finish. No, Miami isn’t back, whatever that might mean in this current era of football in Coral Gables. And yes, there were two ugly losses to ACC divisional winners North Carolina and Clemson, the latter of which preceded the ouster of fifth-year head coach Al Golden. But the Hurricanes impressively salvaged their season, thanks to the work of Larry Scott, who went 4-1 as the interim coach. However, the biggest victory came after the regular season ended, when Mark Richt was hired as the permanent successor to Golden as soon as this game ends.

    The Cougs came out of nowhere to be this year’s big surprise out of the Pac-12. In a season when so many league schools disappointed, Wazzu emerged as a refreshing exception, finishing in third place in the North Division and with its most wins in 12 years. And while QB Luke Falk was the star of the resurgence, even generating some Heisman chatter, the defense was revelatory under first-year coordinator Alex Grinch. Washington State was especially good outside of Pullman, winning at Rutgers, Oregon, Arizona and UCLA before Falk was shelved for the Apple Cup in Seattle. Mike Leach wants his kids to use this rare bowl appearance to further advertise just how much they matured in 2015.

    Why Miami Will Win

    The Canes can stay with the Cougars through the air.

    Miami matches up very well with Washington State. On offense, Brad Kaaya is every bit as talented as Falk in the battle of the sophomore quarterbacks. And, like Falk, Kaaya is supported by a corps of big-play pass-catchers that includes receivers Stacy Coley, Rashawn Scott, Herb Waters and TE David Njoku. Defensively, the Canes are liable to cause problems for the Cougars, who’ll be without their leading receiver, Gabe Marks. Spearheaded by corners Artie Burns and Corn Elder, Miami is plus-one in picks to touchdowns allowed, and hasn’t given up more than one scoring strike in a game since Oct. 17.

    Why Washington State Will Win

    The Wazzu D—yes, D—will cause fits for the Hurricanes.

    Falk & Co. will deservedly make the most headlines. But it’s Grinch’s defense, which has been the biggest difference on the Palouse this season. The Cougars have given up 10 fewer points per game than a year ago, while harassing opponents with front seven pressure. Their ability to attack from all angles will frustrate an inconsistent Miami O-line lacking a true anchor. Kaaya better keep his head on a swivel, because linemen Darryl Paulo, Destiny Vaeao, Hercules Mata’afa and linebackers Peyton Pelluer and Kache Palacio play with an insatiable appetite for the opposing backfield.

    Player Who Matters

    Washington State won’t have Marks, but fingers are crossed that Falk and LT Joe Dahl will be at or near 100% by kickoff.

    Falk is practicing and should be fine after being concussed at the end of the regular season. Dahl, however, is a much bigger question mark. He missed the final month with a lower leg injury, and the Cougars desperately need him to protect the quarterback’s blindside. Dahl isn’t just a garden variety blocker. He’s a next-level, First Team All-Pac-12 performer who’s capable of sealing the edge on a mediocre lot of Miami pass rushers.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    With Falk back in the saddle, Wazzu is set to resume being one of this year’s upstarts in college football.

    Falk and Kaaya will go toe-to-toe in an entertaining battle of rising underclassmen hurlers. The former, though, will enjoy the bigger day, because the latter will be under pressure all afternoon. Grinch’s kids will play with a sense of purpose, creating turnovers and consistently forcing Kaaya to throw with Cougars bearing down on him. The Canes will fall a little short in a high-scoring game, but better days are ahead now that Richt is officially on the clock.

    Miami vs. Washington State Prediction

    Final Score: Washington State 35, Miami 31, Line: Washington State -2.5, o/u: 62
    Must See Rating: 5: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – 1: Property Brothers at Home on the Ranch… 3

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