National Funding Holiday Bowl Prediction, Minnesota vs. Washington State Game Preview, History, Scores
Three reasons why you should watch the National Funding Holiday Bowl between Minnesota vs. Washington State, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.
Date: Tuesday, December 27th
Game Time: 7:00 pm
Venue: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
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Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history
The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 17 out of 40
Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The National Funding Holiday Bowl
– So … anything interesting happening here? As if the idea of the Washington State Cougars playing the Minnesota Golden Gophers wasn’t enough to get people to watch, Minnesota did its part to crank up the drama level with its boycott and threat to not play in the game. Now, the game is going to transcend the college football world, at least for a sports news cycle.
– Fringe NFL quarterback alert. Washington State’s Luke Falk is rising up the draft boards – a likely third-rounder if he comes out early – with the size, the arm, and the skills to at least look the part of a pro passer who can wing it around the yard. Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner didn’t show off the NFL upside many were thinking he might unleash this year, but at 6-3 and 230 pounds, he might not get drafted, but he’ll be in a camp getting a few long looks.
– It’s the Holiday Bowl – it’s going to be good. The bowl went through some lean years with a slew of blowouts from 2006 to 2013, but before that it went on a ridiculous run of phenomenal games. Over the last two years, it’s been one of the best bowl games of the season USC beating Nebraska 45-42 in 2014 and Wisconsin winning a 23-21 late-night thriller over USC last year. There’s an earlier start time this year, so you’ll be able to hang with it.
Here’s Why Minnesota Will Win The National Funding Holiday Bowl
– Minnesota, go Big Ten on Wazzu. The Cougar run defense has been terrific this year, but it hasn’t dealt with the pop and the power like it’s about to face. The Gophers might not be spectacular, and they might not hit a slew of home runs, but they’ll keep pounding and should be able to grind out the 200-yard mark with the 1-2 rushing punch of Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks, along with …
– Mitch Leidner. Okay, Mitch. If there was ever a time to show off the NFL skills, this would be it. The Wazzu secondary gives up yards, and while the Minnesota passing game has been little more than a rumor at times – Leidner threw 12 picks and just seven touchdown passes, with four coming against Indiana State – there’s a decent enough mid-range game to go along with the ground attack. Leidner can move an offense when he gets into a groove – that has to happen early.
– Crank up the pressure. Washington State doesn’t have a pass rush, and the Minnesota offensive line is terrific in pass protection. On the flip side, the Gophers are good at generating pressure, and Luke Falk is always good for taking at least two mega-shots per game. The energy has to be there from the start.
Here’s Why Washington State Will Win The National Funding Holiday Bowl
– Not to put a horrible incident into football terms, but … if there was one area Minnesota couldn’t afford to lose any key players for this game, it’s the secondary. Most of the suspended Gophers were backups, but Antoine Winfield Jr. and KiAnte Hardin are key defensive backs who won’t be in the mix now. Falk is going to take target practice at times.
– The Cougars can grind it out, too. It might not seem like it, but Washington State has a ball control offense. It might be all about the passing game at times, and it might operate with a quick tempo, but the offense owns game after game by keeping the ball for well over 32 minutes. Minnesota needs to dominate the time of possession, and it probably won’t.
– Alright, Luke, let’s see what you can do. Is this going to be his last game before turning pro? He’s thrown for over 4,200 yards this season with 37 touchdowns, but he’s going off two rough games in the losses to Colorado and Washington. He winged it for 325 yards and three scores against the Buffs, but – strange as it seems – he was off. Against Washington, he threw three picks after spreading out seven through the year. Last year he dinked and dunked his way to a bowl win over Miami – if wouldn’t be a bad thing to do that again.
You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The National Funding Holiday Bowl
– Okay, Minnesota. Bring it. The team might be short in the secondary now, and it might have missed some key practice and prep time, but after all the drama and all the theatrics, the team had better play with a big-time attitude and with a little something special. It’ll be too easy if the Gophers get crushed by 30.
– Washington State is decent at this bowl thing lately, but … there haven’t been too many games to go on. The Cougars have only been to three bowl games since losing to Oklahoma in the 2003 Rose, but the 2003 Holiday win over Texas was a thriller, and the 2013 New Mexico over Colorado State and 2015 Sun over Miami were close battles.
– Minnesota in bowls? It’s been rough. The program went on a seven-game bowl losing streak from 2006 – an all-timer of a collapse against Mike Leach’s Texas Tech team in the Insight – to 2014, and even with it finally broke the streak in last year’s Quick Lane, it was a rough performance in what should’ve been a layup over Central Michigan.
Super. So Who’s Going To Win The National Funding Holiday Bowl?
Going against all logic, analysis, and reason, watch out for Minnesota.
The dangerous part is that depleted Gopher secondary that could get picked clean by Falk, making all the other parts of the equation moot. But the guess is that all the craziness will quickly turn into an angry focus for the Minnesota players, and it’ll come out in the performance.
No argument whatsoever if you think Washington State is going to win 45-3, but watch out for the Minnesota running game to take over early, Leidner to come up with one of his best games of the season, and for the you-just-never-know-in-bowl factor to kick in.
Minnesota 26, Washington State 23
Washington State -10.5, o/u: 61.5
ATS Confidence: 4
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Holiday Bowl History, Results
Dec. 30, 2015 Wisconsin 23 USC 21
Dec. 27, 2014 USC 45 Nebraska 42
Dec. 30, 2013 Texas Tech 37 Arizona State 23
Dec. 27, 2012 Baylor 49 UCLA 26
Dec. 28, 2011 Texas 21 California 10
Dec. 30, 2010 Washington 19 Nebraska 7
Dec. 30, 2009 Nebraska 33 Arizona 0
Dec. 30, 2008 Oregon 42 Oklahoma State 31
Dec. 27, 2007 Texas 52 Arizona State 34
Dec. 28, 2006 California 45 Texas A&M 10
Dec. 29, 2005 Oklahoma 17 Oregon 14
Dec. 30, 2004 Texas Tech 45 California 31
Dec. 30, 2003 Washington State 28 Texas 20
Dec. 27, 2002 Kansas State 34 Arizona State 27
Dec. 28, 2001 Texas 47 Washington 43
Dec. 29, 2000 Oregon 35 Texas 30
Dec. 29, 1999 Kansas State 24 Washington 20
Dec. 30, 1998 Arizona 23 Nebraska 20
Dec. 29, 1997 Colorado State 35 Missouri 24
Dec. 30, 1996 Colorado 33 Washington 21
Dec. 29, 1995 Kansas State 54 Colorado State 21
Dec. 30, 1994 Michigan 24 Colorado State 14
Dec. 30, 1993 Ohio State 28 BYU 21
Dec. 30, 1992 Hawaii 27 Illinois 17
Dec. 30, 1991 BYU 13 Iowa 13
Dec. 29, 1990 Texas A&M 65 BYU 14
Dec. 29, 1989 Penn State 50 BYU 39
Dec. 30, 1988 Oklahoma State 62 Wyoming 14
Dec. 30, 1987 Iowa 20 Wyoming 19
Dec. 30, 1986 Iowa 39 San Diego St. 38
Dec. 22, 1985 Arkansas 18 Arizona State 17
Dec. 21, 1984 BYU 24 Michigan 17
Dec. 23, 1983 BYU 21 Missouri 17
Dec. 17, 1982 Ohio State 47 BYU 17
Dec. 18, 1981 BYU 38 Washington State 36
Dec. 19, 1980 BYU 46 SMU 45
Dec. 21, 1979 Indiana 38 BYU 37
Dec. 22, 1978 Navy 23 BYU 16