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Three things to watch in the Sun Bowl

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Washington State v Washington Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Good morning, Coug fans. I hope you’re ready for some morning football. Our Cougs battle the relocated Central Michigan Chippewas this morning at 9 a.m. PT. This kickoff time is a throwback to fans of a certain age. By that I mean fans who enjoyed plenty of 10 a.m. PT Seattle Mariners games during the summers of our youth. Those were the days.

But today there’s a football game in El Paso, Texas. In a way, we’ve already won by the mere fact that there’s a game today. As you know, the Miami Hurricanes did WSU dirty when it backed out due to COVID issues only hours after WSU had arrived. The Cougs might not have been left at the altar like N.C. State, but they were at least dumped at the rehearsal dinner and left with the bar tab. They even held a practice not knowing if they’d even play the game.

But lo and behold, Central Michigan was not only available but in the neighborhood, relatively speaking, and after what must have been among the top-10 most boring drives in America, the Chippewas made it from Tucson to El Paso.

It’s the Cougs and the Chips battling for all the Frosted Flakes in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. Let’s get to the three things I’ll be watching today:

Three Things To Watch

The replacements: No Max Borghi, no Deon McIntosh, no Abraham Lucas, no Liam Ryan, no Jaylen Watson, no cheerleaders, no marching band. In their places will be Nakia Watson, Jouvensly Bazil (I assume), Christian Hilborn (a true freshman) Jarret Kingston (normally a guard) Kaleb Ford-Dement, fans cheering in the stands and El Dorado High School:

They’re naturals!

It’s easy to lament the losses, but I’m a glass half full kind of guy and this is a good opportunity for a brief preview of next year’s team. But man, it sure would be nice to have those starters in for one more game to cap off this wild season. If you’ve watched certain teams with opt-outs this bowl season (looking your way, Oregon and Mississippi State), it doesn’t always go so well. Let’s hope WSU can buck that trend.

The storylines: Eat a pancake each time the broadcast mention’s Robb Akey’s ties to WSU, his son’s role on the WSU staff, or Jim McElwain’s ties to the Northwest. You might not need to eat the rest of the day.

Trickery: This is a bowl game, after all. Some teams like to dig deep into their back of tricks and surprise their opponents. Sometimes it works, and sometimes a running back throws a game-losing interception in the snow to Shalom Luani. The WSU defense will need to be on its toes. If you read Craig’s preview, you know the Central Michigan’s stud running back not only ran for 1,710 yards, but also threw three passes for 41 yards.

Have fun, fellow fans. We won’t see a Cougar football game for about eight months after this one.