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Sports >  WSU football

The pick: Why Washington State will beat Central Michigan

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 31, 2021

By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

EL PASO, Texas – A season defined by obstacles just couldn’t end without one final hurdle.

Let’s recap: Washington State endured an uninspiring start to its 2021 season, but the Cougars began gaining steam after four games. Then they hit an extraordinary snag in mid-October, when they were forced to say goodbye to half of their coaching staff. They finished strongly anyway – in fact, they somehow managed to improve as the year progressed.

In retrospect, Jake Dickert sees the Cougars’ past challenges as beneficial.

“Anyone who’s followed our story throughout the 2021 season knows that this group – if any in the country – was equipped for this week,” the new WSU head coach said. “When we got some bad news from Miami early in the week, our guys didn’t flinch.”

WSU (7-5) doesn’t seem to mind adverse conditions. The Cougars have instead thrived under them. This season could have crashed, but it wound up becoming an uplifting tale of persistence. WSU unified its fan base and set the stage for a bright future on the Palouse.

The Cougars’ latest test, their last one of this chaotic year, is not the toughest one they’ve faced.

That’s why they’ll turn back Central Michigan (8-4) and emerge victorious in the 88th running of the Sun Bowl, slated to kick off at 9 a.m. Friday in El Paso.

Miami backed out of the game Sunday evening because of COVID-19 issues, leaving the Sun Bowl Association and other officials scrambling to find a replacement opponent. CMU happened to be stationed 315 miles away, in Tucson, Arizona. The Chippewas’ Arizona Bowl opponent, Boise State, pulled out of that matchup Monday, also due to coronavirus-related problems.

And so the Sun Bowl took shape – at the last possible moment.

Three days to prepare for a game? No sweat.

“This isn’t the worst thing that’s happened to us,” linebacker Jahad Woods said Monday.

WSU’s resilient defense will bend, but won’t break against a potent CMU offense. The Cougars’ run-and-shoot offense, despite being shorthanded because of opt-outs at running back and on the offensive line, will pick apart the Chippewas’ susceptible secondary.

The pick: Washington State 30, Central Michigan 21

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