EL PASO, Texas — As we all know, this bowl game has had a lot of twists and turns, but we finally have a matchup between Washington State and Central Michigan.
So, let's hop into our three Keys for Washington State to get a Sun Bowl victory.
De Laura and the passing game
Washington State will be without both of its primary running backs in the Sun Bowl as Max Borghi has opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft and Deon Mcintosh did not make the trip to El Paso.
So, the starting running back will be junior Nakia Watson, who only had 19 carries all season.
On top of the running back core thinned out, the offensive line will look very different as well. Liam Ryan will not be playing after suffering an injury and First Team All-PAC-12 lineman Abraham Lucas joins Borghi in preparing for the draft.
Therefore, it's no secret Jayden De Laura and the passing game will have to set the tone for the Cougs. WSU has thrown for over 230 yards in seven consecutive games, so if De Laura and crew can keep things rolling, it will bode well in this one.
Stop (Or slow down) Lew Nichols III
On offense, Central Michigan will run the ball with Lew Nichols III and then run the ball with Lew Nichols III again.
The star Freshman running back led the country in rushing yards with 1,710 and he found the end zone 15 times.
The last time WSU faced a team that could run the ball as well as the Chippewas was against BYU, where WSU lost 21-19, allowing 238 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
There's no doubt, WSU's focus will be on stopping Nichols III.
Jackson and Stone Jr.
If Washington State is able to bottle up Nichols III, it opens the door for a big game from Brennan Jackson and Ron Stone Jr.
The Chippewas air attack is also led by a Freshman, in quarterback Daniel Richardson. Now, Richardson has played relatively mistake-free football, hurling 23 touchdown passes compared to just five interceptions, however, he did throw three interceptions in the final two games.
The college newcomer has yet to start against a power five pass rush in his career. Jackson and Stone Jr. could give him a rude awakening on what power five edge rushers are like in a full 60-minute game.
The WSU Cougars will take on the Central Michigan Chippewas at this year’s Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, 2021 at 9:30 a.m.