Bowl season is finally among us and for the first time since 2003 the Washington State Cougars are in a bowl game. The Cougars (6-6, 4-5 PAC-12) will be heading down to Albuquerque, New Mexico to take on the Colorado State Rams (7-6, 5-3 MWC) in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl this weekend.
Colorado State and Washington State have never played each other before despite being close to each other but it looks like this will be a good game. The Rams are a ground and pound team while the Cougars are an air raid team and the two teams match up pretty evenly. The Rams last bowl appearance came in 2008 when they beat Fresno State 40-35 in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
I take a look at what the Cougars can do to come out of this bowl game with 5 keys to a Washington State win.
Stop The Run Game
The Rams have a very good ground game averaging 202.7 yards per game, good enough for 31st in the FBS. The Cougars are going to have to come into this game and do something they struggled to do all season. The Cougars have been giving up an average of 185.2 yards per game on the ground this season which included 5 games where they gave up 200+ yards.
The Rams leading rusher, Kapri Bibbs, has tallied up 1,572 yards this season while scoring 28 times on 254 carries and averages 6.2 yards per carry. Their second leading rusher, Chris Nwoke, has only 398 yards on 101 carries and Donnell Alexander has 397 yards on 64 carries. Both running backs have 2 touchdowns each.
The Cougars will have to stop the running game of the Rams and will have to do it early to force them to throw the ball. We all have seen what this secondary can do trust that they can do their jobs to help the team out. Getting to Bibbs, Nwoke, and Alexander early in the game should be one of the Cougars biggest goals for this game. The Rams are only averaging 258.2 yards through the air and starting quarterback, Garrett Grayson, has a 62.2 completion percentage through the air.