From the beginning of Wazzu’s bowl hunt, even before the Apple Cup was kicked, WSU athletic director Bill Moos was on the phones with the New Mexico Bowl reps trying to secure a spot. Here are a few reasons he may have been working so hard with them.
1: Influence and Affiliation
The largest, most common factor here is the fact that the New Mexico Bowl is the final conference affiliated spot. Obviously if you don’t make that selection, you run the risk of being left out all-together as a bowl selection committee starts to determine the best match ups out of “at-large” available teams and nobody can truly predict which way that may go.
Throw on top of it the fact that Arizona went last year to this Bowl and despite the fact that they were practically right down the road, left the place half full, you got a leg to stand on. Remember, the Cougs were the underling choice here, which means they had to overtake the Wildcats in the mind of those representative voters. Every leg counts and for the team, that was probably a big selling point because the bowl wants to make money and because in its’ second year as a Pac-12 affiliate, it wants to get diversity.
Moos has high contacts and influence within the conference, it was important to use it to guarantee WSU’s place in the bowl system this year. The Cougs just couldn’t afford to be left out and wanted to make the affiliated list of bowls.
2: A Manageable Opponent
The Cougars needed an opponent they can handle. Moos knew of course that the other winner of the spot would be a middle-of-the-road Mountain West Conference opponent. The enemy, therefore was going to be a more predictable team as a “winnable” game in this bowl. Some of the other at-large match-ups were up in the air and while they would have been fun, Moos and WSU wanted an opponent that this team could put forth a good showing against.
3 The Comfort Factor
Playing an early bowl game allows for less rust and in this offense, that can be important. The Cougs finished the season strong and with a bit of a rhythm to their attack, it would be nice to keep that going, especially against a team like CSU who can make you pay on the ground.
The other factor here is actually stadium size. Washington State should be pretty comfortable in University Stadium, as I mentioned earlier today.