The Washington State Cougars and Central Michigan Chippewas will take the field on New Year’s Eve morning in El Paso, Texas for the 2021 Sun Bowl. WSU is listed as 7-point favorites by DraftKings*, despite being down several key players.
The Cougs will be without its two starting tackles (Liam Ryan, Abe Lucas), its top two running backs (Max Borghi, Deon McIntosh), and its best cornerback (Jaylen Watson) in the Sun Bowl. That means plenty of young players will have an opportunity to show the coaching staff what they can do ahead of the 2022 season.
Central Michigan found its way into the Sun Bowl after Miami pulled out due to COVID-19 issues, and CMU’s opponent in the Arizona Bowl (Boise State) did the same. The Chippewas and Cougs will be facing each other on short notice, so that is likely to have an impact on preparation.
These two teams have never faced each other, but at one point they were scheduled for a home-and-home series. That Pullman game would have happened in 2021 before that series was canceled in 2016. Thanks to the weirdness of 2021, the college football world will get a WSU-CMU matchup anyway.
For a more in-depth look at the 2021 Sun Bowl, check out my “More than you need to know” preview. You can also find an audio preview of the game in the latest episode of Podcast vs. Everyone.
Overall, these are two teams that have dynamic offenses and so-so defenses. CMU’s defense is led by former WSU defensive coordinator Robb Akey and skews toward havoc with a willingness to trade off the occasional big play. WSU’s defense is more likely to prevent explosiveness but allows teams to still move down the field.