Central Michigan ends wild trip west in Sun Bowl against WSU

Dec 30, 2021, 3:50 PM
WSU Max Borghi...
WSU running back Max Borghi rushes against Arizona State on Oct. 30. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Central Michigan’s trip west has turned wild, and the Chippewas still have the goal of ending a five-game losing streak in bowl games. It’ll just be in a different bowl. One thing didn’t change: Central Michigan (8-4) is still in the desert southwest for a New Year’s Eve bowl game. But it’s the Sun Bowl against WSU on Friday instead of the Arizona Bowl against Boise State.

WSU gets new opponent for Friday’s Sun Bowl: Central Michigan

COVID-19 issues knocked Boise State out of the Arizona Bowl and Miami out of the Sun. The result was an agreement for the Chippewas to stay in Tucson, Arizona, because they were already there, and take the four-hour ride to El Paso, Texas. They arrived Thursday.

“For any football program, you’ve got to be able to improvise, adjust, overcome,” coach Jim McElwaine said Wednesday. “We’re on the same page, the kids know the routine. We altered it a little bit but try to keep it as normal as possible and go play the game.”

WSU coach Jake Dickert will be on the sideline for the first time since having the interim tagged removed the day after an Apple Cup win over Washington last month.

The WSU Cougars (7-5) were 3-2 after Nick Rolovich was fired for refusing to meet a state mandate for all employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Anyone that has followed our story throughout the 2021 season knows that this group of any in the country was equipped for this week,” Dickert said. “When we got the bad news from Miami early in the week our guys didn’t flinch. They knew we were going to find something where we could put an end to this storied season we’ve had.”

The Chippewas get a Power Five opponent in WSU instead of a Boise team that shared the fifth-best conference record in the Group of Five’s Mountain West. Their most recent bowl victory was over Western Kentucky in the 2012 Little Caesars Bowl.

“To get an opportunity to play a final game with this group that is going to hold a special, special spot in my in my heart for the rest of my life,” said McElwaine, who was in the Mountain West at Colorado State before getting the Florida job seven years ago. “Look, we’re playing a really good team with the land of misfit toys. We’re going to have a blast doing it.”


Central Michigan running back RB Lew Nichols III leads the nation with 1,710 yards rushing in the freshman’s first full season. He averaged 209 yards in the final three games of the regular season and scored eight touchdowns. Nichols has 15 TDs for the season.


Washington State QB Jayden de Laura is facing one of the nation’s worst pass defenses. The freshman playing his first full season is averaging 250 yards passing per game with 23 touchdowns. The Chippewas are 117th against the pass, allowing an average of 266 yards per game.


Central Michigan’s Kalil Pimpleton is the only FBS player with two punt returns for touchdowns in the same game this season. He erased a 14-0 deficit by himself in a five-minute stretch that included a TD catch in a 42-30 victory over Western Michigan.


The first meeting between the schools is the third Sun Bowl for the Cougars (they won the previous two). It’s the first Sun Bowl and 12th FBS bowl overall for the Chippewas. Washington State is 8-8 in bowl games.

More WSU coverage


The Associated Press

Andrej Jakimovski sparks WSU Cougars to 65-57 victory over Cal

Andrej Jakimovski came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers on his way to a season-high 16 points and WSU turned back California 65-57.
9 days ago
WSU Stanford...
The Associated Press

Stanford uses 23-0 run to beat WSU Cougars 62-57

Brandon Angel and Spencer Jones each scored 16 points and Stanford used a 23-0 second-half run to beat WSU 62-57 on Thursday in a game delayed 75 minutes due to COVID testing.
11 days ago
WSU Martin Stadium...
Brent Stecker

Heaps: Why WSU has a ‘huge get’ in transfer QB Cameron Ward

WSU won't have Jayden de Laura in 2022 after he transferred to Arizona on Monday, but they got a stellar replacement at QB in Cameron Ward.
13 days ago
WSU D.J. Rodman...
The Associated Press

WSU gets first win at Utah since 1946, beating Utes 77-61

Tyrell Roberts knocked down five 3-pointers and WSU picked up its first win at Utah since 1946, winning 77-61 in a Pac-12 battle Saturday.
16 days ago
WSU Colorado...
The Associated Press

WSU edged out by Battey, Colorado 83-78 in return to action

Evan Battey scored 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting, Keeshawn Barthelemy scored 17 points and Colorado beat WSU 83-78 on Thursday night.
18 days ago
The Associated Press

Central Michigan beats WSU Cougars 24-21 in Sun Bowl

Lew Nichols III ran for 130 yards and a touchdown, leading late replacement Central Michigan to a 24-21 victory over WSU in the Sun Bowl.
24 days ago
Central Michigan ends wild trip west in Sun Bowl against WSU