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Washington State (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-6), noon MST (ESPN), Saturday
Line: Colorado State by 5.
Series record: Teams have never met.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Both programs are looking for their first bowl win in years after long postseason appearance droughts. Rams head coach Jim McElwain and Cougars head coach Mike Leach said a bowl victory could really boost their programs’ visibility and help with recruiting as both teams try to transform their fortunes from recent years. McElwain is trying to establish himself after serving as Alabama’s offensive coordinator during two of the Crimson Tide’s national championships. Leach is trying to re-establish himself after a bad breakup from Texas Tech as their head coach. The Cougars are looking for their first seven-win season since 2003.
The Rams are the only team in the nation to boast a 3,000-yard passer and a 1,500-yard runner. The team averages 35.3 points per game and ranks 43rd nationally. The Cougars will have Leach’s signature spread offense anchored by junior quarterback Connor Halliday. Both team struggle with their pass defenses so expect a lot of points on the board.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Colorado State: Running back Kapri Bibbs leads the nation with 28 rushing touchdowns, and quarterback Garrett Grayson ranks among the country’s top 20 in yards passing (3,327).
Washington State: Connor Halliday ranks fourth nationally in yards passing (4,189) and is tied for 13th with 28 touchdown passes. He led an offense that nearly upset Auburn in the Cougars’ first game of the year in a heartbreaking 31-24 loss.
FACTS AND FIGURES
In four games this season, the Rams’ offense racked up 50 or more points — a school record ... Colorado State has racked up this season the most single-season offensive yards (5,996) and the highest total offensive average per game (461.2) in school history. The Rams also broke another school record when they recorded 500-plus yards of total offense in seven games in a single season. ... Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday now owns a school-record 13 career 300-yard performances, passing the previous mark of 12 held by Ryan Leaf and Alex Brink. His 4,187 yards passing this season are the most in school history and fourth-most in Pac-12 history...Safety Deone Bucannon enters the New Mexico Bowl leading the Pac-12 with 109 tackles.