The Mountaineers (7-5 overall) will face Arizona State (6-6) of the Pac-12 conference in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl. The Sun Devils, coached by former Mountaineer assistant Todd Graham, came from a pool of teams with similar records, including California (7-5), Washington (6-6), and Arizona (6-6). The game will be a late night event for WVU fans who don't make the trip, as it will kick off at 10:15 p.m. EST. The football game will also make up another men's basketball - football doubleheader, as Bob Huggins' team opens Big 12 at Kansas State the same day. Gametime for that contest has not yet been announced.
The bowl committee announces this as the 27th edition of the Cactus Bowl, but the event has actually been played under different names and in different cities since the inagural game, then titled the Copper Bowl in 1989. That contest took place in Tucson, Ariz., and featured the homestanding Wildcats against North Carolina State. West Virginia appeared in the 10th anniversary of the game, which was also played at Arizona Stadium, dropping a 34-31 decision to Missouri.
On the gridiron, WVU will face the Sun Devils at Chase Field, the home of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks. According to the bowl's website, this is the first game played at Chase Field since 2005, when Arizona State knocked off Rutgers 45-40.The bowl has trended toward high-scoring affairs over its history, with only a scattering of low point totals dotting its record.Last year, Oklahoma State built momentum in the game for this year's excellent season by downing Washington 30-22. ASU lost four of its last six games, but did destroy Arizona 52-37 in the battle for the Terrritorial Cup.The Sun Devils also feature former WVU defensive coordinator Keith Patterson in the same role on Graham's staff.
Tickets on the Cactus Bowl website are priced between $40 and $140 each. West Virginia will have an announcement on its ticket availability shortly.
The Cactus Bowl is operated by the Fiesta Bowl committee, and there is a definite overlap in the games and events. The Fiesta Bowl will be played on Jan. 1, one day before the Cactus Bowl, and will match Ohio State and Notre Dame.