By Brent Stecker
The Washington State Cougars will play in the New Mexico Bowl, ending a nine-year postseason drought.
The 6-6 Cougars (4-5 Pac-12) will face Colorado State in the bowl game, which will be televised from Albuquerque on ESPN at 11 a.m. on Dec. 21.
The announcement was made by New Mexico Bowl Executive Director Jeff Siembieda Sunday.
In just his second season at the helm, WSU coach Mike Leach led the Cougars to a berth in its first bowl, the New Mexico Bowl, in nine years. (AP)
Though they reached bowl eligibility with a win over Utah on Nov. 23, their .500 record in coach Mike Leach’s second season left them on the bubble up until Sunday’s announcement.
The Cougars last played a postseason game in 2003, when they defeated Texas in the Holiday Bowl.
Colorado State finished the regular season at 7-6 overall and 5-3 in the Mountain West. The Rams’ balanced offense ranks 29th in the FBS in points per game (35.3), 31st in rushing yards per game (202.7) and 39th in passing yards per game (258.5).
Running back Kapri Bibbs leads the FBS with 28 rushing touchdowns and is eighth with 1,572 yards rushing.
Quaterback Garrett Grayson, a native of Vancouver, Wa., has thrown for 3,327 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 62.2 percent passing.
The Rams will get a tough test from WSU’s air-raid offense — Colorado State gives up 265.4 yards per game through the air, 109th in the nation, and has yielded 27 passing touchdowns to just nine interceptions. The Rams are also 79th with 28.6 points allowed per game.
Colorado State senior linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who is third in the FBS with both 12 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss, will look to keep WSU quarterback Connor Halliday under pressure.
Washington State enters the New Mexico Bowl ranked fourth in the FBS with 364.5 passing yards per game. Halliday, a junior, is also fourth in the nation with 4,187 passing yards to go with 28 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, and 62.8 completion percentage.
WSU ranks 61st with 29.8 points per game and 92nd with 31.3 points allowed per game.