Once again, Washington State Cougars fans get to watch their team in a great primetime matchup in beautiful San Diego. Here’s hoping it goes a little better than last year. The team was some how invited back despite putting up an absolute dud against Minnesota, losing 17-12. Well the Cougars are getting a second chance tonight to show the country just how far the program has come under Mike Leach.
The 16th-ranked Cougars will face Big Ten heavyweight and 18th-ranked Michigan State in what should be a terrific matchup. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. PT on Fox Sports 1. The Spartans are currently 2 1/2 point favorites, which is probably a combination of the Apple Cup performance and last year’s Holiday Bowl. There are a couple of other mitigating factors for the Cougars with starting outside receivers Isaiah Johnson-Mack and Tavares Martin Jr. leaving the program, and all-world defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa having to sit out the first half after a targeting penalty in the second half of the Apple Cup.
Michigan State comes in with an identical 9-3 record to the Cougars with their most impressive wins coming against Penn State, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota. These were all very close games, though, which should be mentioned, but impressive nonetheless. The Spartans’ three losses came against Notre Dame, Ohio State and Northwestern. The Notre Dame and Ohio State games were blowouts and Northwestern put up 39 points in their victory.
When the Spartans defense plays well, they are very tough to beat. But judging by their three losses, when they start turning the ball over, things escalate very quickly. That bodes well for WSU’s Speed D. The Cougars will need Luke Falk and newly starting receivers Dezmon Patmon and Tay Martin to take advantage, which they are certainly capable of.
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