WSU Holiday Bowl Notebook

AMONG THE SIX Pac-12 teams bowling this season, Washington State is favored by the most points -- Las Vegas lists the Cougs as a 10 1/2 point favorite over Minnesota's Golden Gophers in the Holiday Bowl. Only one other bowl game involving a Pac-12 team featured a weightier betting line than the Cougars' at last check.

Alabama is favored over Washington by 15 points in the Peach Bowl and CFP semifinal.

If Las Vegas is right, the Pac-12 will go 5-1 in its bowls.  The other four Pac-12 bowls and betting lines:

Utah: 7-point favorite over Indiana in the Foster Farms.
Colorado: 3-point favorite over Oklahoma State in the Alamo.
Stanford: 2 1/2 point favorite over North Carolina in the Sun.
USC: 6 ½ point favorite over Penn State in the Rose.

MINNESOTA WENT 8-4 this season, easily exceeding the (generally) required six wins but there are some in Minneapolis who say the Gophers shouldn’t be playing in a bowl at all. Indeed, Minnesota has been taking a pounding in the press all week after the Gopher players ended their boycott on Saturday.

"The Shame and Humiliation Tour moves to San Diego this week as your Golden Gophers take on the Washington State Cougars in the Holiday Bowl.  Most students and alumni should experience significant embarrassment when the depraved actions of team members are recounted on national television. Plus, there will be the rehash of the threatened boycott by players who didn’t even have the facts before issuing a set of demands. You know: Ready, fire, aim.

"Now, as to whether they should open up the silos and nuke the program, that seems too harsh. They just need to clean it up and start over again. And I’m guessing the target date for the reboot is Dec. 28."
- Tom Powers, Pioneer Press

"I’m not sure how (head coach Tracy) Claeys can survive past the Holiday Bowl. His return likely hinges on whether (AD Mark) Coyle and his boss, university President Eric Kaler, believe this storm eventually blows over and public outrage subsides. Fans showed increasing pushback toward the program and rising ticket prices this season. Average home attendance dipped to its lowest level in 14 years."
- Chip Scoggins, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh also brought up a key point on the timing of Claeys' now widely panned tweet.

"You almost can understand college students protesting impulsively without having all the information. A 47-year-old football coach has no such excuse. Claeys had three months to learn everything alleged about the incident when he tweeted: 'Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!'"

And an online petition was started by Minnesota residents seeking to have Claeys fired. At press time, it was closing in on its goal  of 400 signatures.

ASSUMING THAT MINNESOTA can put the distractions aside, there's still the question of which Gopher team shows up in the Holiday Bowl. 

Will it be the one that didn’t lose a game by more than a touchdown in an 8-4 season other than its regular season finale at No. 6 Wisconsin?  (And even then, the Gophers entered the fourth quarter in Madison with the lead before falling 31-17.

Or will it be the team that barely beat Rutgers (2-10, 0-9 Big 12) and went 8-4 in missing both Ohio State and Michigan this year?

  • WHAT: The 39th Holiday Bowl
  • KICKOFF TIME: 4 pm Pacific
  • THE LINE: Cougs by 10 1/2
  • TV: ESPN
  • THE SERIES: UM leads 3-2
  • LAST MEETING: 1988, WSU won 44-9

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