Washington v. Oklahoma State
Sun Devil Stadium — Tempe, AZ
January 2, 2015 — 10:15 pm Eastern (ESPN)
Why You Should Watch
For the first time in this game’s quarter-century history, the Cactus Bowl will be played after the New Year instead of in December. It’s been an Arizona staple since 1989, when it originated as the Copper Bowl in Tucson before moving to the Phoenix area in 2000. It’s the last game besides the national championship game that features a pair of Power Five schools playing against one another, and the perfect nightcap for the last full day of football for the 2014-15 season. Once this night is over, you’ve got just three more football games to satiate your craving and stock you up for the long offseason.
What Each Team Brings to the Table
Chris Petersen’s first season in Seattle finished with mixed reviews. The Huskies won eight games in a 13-game schedule (due to a trip to Hawaii), but they lost to the top two teams in the Pac-12 North and the top three teams in the Pac-12 South to finish below .500 in conference play. They barely survived a shootout against FCS Eastern Washington early in the year, but ended the season on a two-game winning streak with blowouts of Oregon State and Washington State. Cyler Miles was a solid caretaker in his first year as the starting quarterback, throwing 16 touchdowns against three interceptions, but he averaged fewer than 200 yards per game for the nation’s 98th-ranked passing offense. The run game gained more yards per contest than the passing attack, ranking 40th in the country despite the lack of a featured back. The Huskies gave up over 400 yards per game, but they also held teams to 24 points.
Oklahoma State broke a five-game losing streak in the Bedlam Game against Oklahoma, engineering a 14-point comeback in the fourth quarter to win 38-35 in overtime. The win barely secured bowl eligibility for the Cowboys, continuing a streak of nine straight years of reaching the postseason. Daxx Garman led the team in passing, but concussion issues kept him out of the regular-season finale. It was a trying year on offense for the team, which was forced to deal with several injuries at quarterback and finished 59th in the country in passing. Oklahoma State’s running game was even worse, racking up just 135 yards per game to finish 102nd nationally. The Pokes were abysmal defensively, allowing nearly five more points than the team scored each time out. Working against Mike Gundy’s team was turnovers; the Cowboys’ -8 turnover margin was among the 20 worst in the country.
What is Likely to Happen
Oklahoma State is lucky to even be in a bowl game this year. Other than its season opener against Florida State, where the Cowboys played the defending national champions close in a 37-31 defeat, their other five losses have come by an average of nearly 27 points per game. Washington lost five games, but it all came against a tougher schedule and by a closer margin of defeat. Offense, normally the defining trait of Mike Gundy’s teams in Stillwater, betrayed the Pokes this season. The magic of Bedlam will run out in the Tempe night, as Washington’s tough defense keeps Oklahoma State from gaining any momentum. Cyler Miles will do just enough to get the Huskies in position to win, and the backfield stable will chip away at the Pokes until the game gets out of reach.
Washington 34, Oklahoma State 14