Aengus Moorehead Sun Bowl Picks: Surging Hurricanes Set to Meet Cougars in the Lone Star State
Friday, December 25, 2015
by Aengus Moorehead

Aengus Moorehead Sun Bowl Picks: Surging Hurricanes Set to Meet Cougars in the Lone Star State

Miami Hurricanes vs. Washington State Cougars

Hurricanes: 8-4 SU,7-5 ATS
Cougars: 8-4 SU,9-3 ATS
2:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 26, 2015
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas

The Story
The Sun Bowl will feature two storied schools which will be facing each other for the first time as the Washington State Cougars meet the Miami Hurricanes in El Paso, Texas.

The Cougars last played in the Sun Bowl in 2001 when they defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 33-27 while Miami Sun lost the bowl in 2010 to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 33-17.

The Hurricanes endured a seesaw season in which after starting the campaign losing three of their six first games promptly jettisoned Coach Al Golden in the process.

Under interim Coach Larrie Scott’s leadership, the Hurricanes (8-4) have won four of their past five games heading into Saturday’s finale against Washington State. Scott will continue for one more game before Mark Richt takes over for the 2016 season.

Coach Mike Leach won conference coach of the year for his work in leading the Cougars from a 3-9 record in 2014 to their best finish since 2003. Washington State began the season ominously as they lost 24-17 as 31-point favorites at home to Portland State.

The rebound was immediate as the Cougars won five of their next six games, including a thrilling comeback win at Oregon with their only loss during that stretch coming to No. 24 California.

A two-point loss to No. 8 Stanford ended a three-game losing streak but the Cougars would win three in a row again, becoming bowl eligible with a 38-24 win over Arizona State followed by an upset of No. 19 UCLA at the Rose Bowl. has the Washington State listed as -2½ point favorites and the game's total is sitting at 62.

On the NCAA Football Moneyline odds at BetOnline Washington State are at -135.

Miami Hurricanes vs. Washington State Cougars Early Odds & Betting Lines

Gm# Team
227 Miami
228 Washington State

Live College Football Bowl Odds & Scores - Click here

In their last action, Washington State was a 45-10 loser on the road against Huskies. They failed to cover the +7.5-point spread as underdogs, while the combined score (55) was profitable news for OVER bettors.

Miami was a 29-24 winner in its last match on the road against Panthers. They covered the +7-point spread as underdogs, while the total score of 53 sent UNDER bettors to the payout window.

Miami Hurricanes vs. Washington State Cougars NCAAF Betting Odds & Trends

Miami is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Miami's last 6 games

Washington State:
Washington State is 8-1 ATS in its last 9 games
Washington State is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Washington State's last 5 games

The Reality:
Star quarterback Luke Falk missed the final game of the season, a 45-10 defeat to Washington, but is slated to return for the Sun Bowl. Falk ranks No. 5 nationally in passing yards (4,266) and is tied for No. 4 in touchdown passes (36) to just eight interceptions.

Receiver Gabe Marks led the Pac-12 in receptions, yards and touchdowns, reaching the end zone in nine of 12 games. Marks, who was tied for fourth in the nation in both catches (99) and receiving touchdowns (14), is finally practicing again for the first time since injuring his ankle against Colorado.

The return of the Cougars’ two most influential offensive players will be a tremendous boost against a Miami defense that has fallen victim to a couple of big blowouts this season. The Canes gave up 58 points to Clemson and 59 against North Carolina this season.

The Cougars rank 93rd in FBS in yards allowed per game, but they have the ability to make it tough on Miami. The Cougars can get a lot of pressure with its front seven and they also are capable of attacking from all angles. WSU which gave up just 223 yards per game and 12 passing touchdowns all year (both second in the Pac-12) will give Miami’s quarterback Brad Kaaya all he can handle.

Miami’s chances of winning this bowl game lie in the hands of  Kaaya. Don’t be fooled by the drop in Kaaya’s touchdowns from 26 in his excellent freshman season to only 15 this year. The exodus of his top skill position weapons to the NFL over the summer had a lot to do with that.

Kaaya had a strong sophomore campaign regardless, throwing for 3,019 yards with the 15 touchdowns with just four interceptions. In November, he averaged 9.1 yards per attempt and 293 yards passing per game. He received very little help from the running attack that ranked 116th in the nation although Joseph Yearby does have 939 yards and six touchdowns. 

Wide receivers Stacy Coley, Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters have at least 38 catches for 600 yards. Defensively, Miami has struggled against the run, allowing 210.8 yards per game. But that’s good news in this game at Washington State is all about the pass (79.9 rushing yards per game). Miami is strong against the pass, giving up just 210.8 yards per game.

The Canes were 29th in the nation in pass defense, surrendering just 196 yards per game and 14 passing touchdowns all season. 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.

The result:
There is no doubt that this game will consist of a lot of points due to the amount of firepower both offenses possess. However, Miami has not fared well against teams that fit that description. The Cougars will prove to be too much against on offense and will prevail. Take Washington State -2½ and the over 62.

NCAA College Football Bowl Prediction and Pick: Washington State -2½ at BetOnline


al golden - artie burns - brad kaaya - luke falk - miami hurricanes - mike leach - stacy coley - washington state cougars

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