Washington State Cougars vs. Miami Hurricanes: Sun Bowl Prediction & Game Preview - 12/31/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Sun Bowl

Game time: Noon ET; Dec. 31, 2021
Venue: Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
Where to watch: CBS

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Miami -2.5
BetMGM: Miami -2.5 
Caesars: Miami -2.5

Season record
Washington State: 7-5
Miami: 7-5 

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Washington State - Miami preview and analysis


The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. Good lord, what a concept.

The Miami Hurricanes will come in as the favorites against the Washington State Cougars in El Paso for a bowl that’s sponsored by a mascot for a cereal.

Can you feel the excitement of this matchup?

A new era of Miami football will begin (again) next season when former Oregon coach Mario Cristobal becomes the new head coach at his alma mater, where he won a national championship as a player. Jess Simpson will handle interim duties for the game.

But the Hurricanes have won four of five entering this bowl game and have seemed to put the momentum on their side. The offense has been clicking since Tyler Van Dyke took over starting quarterback duties after the season-opening 44-13 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Van Dyke is 69 yards away from a 3,000-yard campaign and has only thrown six interceptions; three of them have come in the last six games.

Van Dyke is coming off a 381-yard, 3-touchdown performance against the Duke Blue Devils, one week after going for 357 and three scores with the freshman turning up on senior day. His favorite target, Charleston Rambo, had a tremendous end to the season by going over 100 yards in five of his last six games. That included a seven-reception, 210-yard performance in a 33-30 win at home against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Miami’s offense has hummed to the tune of 34.1 points per game. The defense isn’t what it used to be back in Cristobal’s day, allowing 28.4, but they’ve held opponents to under 400 yards particularly because of the run defense. Washington State’s passing game, led by Jayden de Laura, is going to need to play at its best to have a chance against a high-octane Miami offense.

Wazzu closed the season by winning three of four, sandwiched inbetween two tough losses to BYU and Pac-12 runner-up Oregon. The Cougars closed the regular season with a 40-13 win at the Washington Huskies in the Apple Cup. It was an efficient day for de Laura, throwing for 245 yards on 27 of 32, while running back Max Borghi had 129 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cougars’ running game.

History dictates this will be a low-scoring affair, though. The under has cashed in Miami’s last four bowl games when they’ve been favored, while the under has gone in Washington State’s favor in six of the last seven.

Prediction


I’d normally tend toward the underdog if the scoring stays low, but I like how Miami’s played the last few weeks. Van Dyke has been so efficient heading into bowl season and I think Wazzu’s defense is weak enough for the freshman to take advantage. Miami by 13

Betting trends


Washington State is 4-11 straight up as an underdog in its last 15 games.

Washington State is 2-11 off consecutive wins by 10 points or more against conference rivals.

Miami is 10-15 ATS as a favorite over the past three seasons.

Miami is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 after allowing 100 rushing yards or less in the previous game.

Statistical leaders


Washington State:
Passing: Jayden de Laura – 2,751 yards, 23 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Max Borghi – 880 yards, 12 TD
Receiving: Calvin Jackson Jr. – 955 yards, 7 TD

Miami:
Passing: Tyler Van Dyke – 2,931 yards, 25 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Jaylan Knighton – 561 yards, 8 TD
Receiving: Charleston Rambo – 1,172 yards, 7 TD

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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