NCAA FB

Colorado State, Washington State eye shootout

Share This Story

   
 

ISLETA PUEBLO, N.M. (AP)

Colorado State hasn't been to a bowl game since 2008. Washington State hasn't been since 2003.

During those droughts, both programs struggled amid poor seasons and staff shake-ups that left players disappointed and alumni angry.

But now the two emerging programs are preparing to kick off the college bowl season and both believe a bowl victory could be the lift needed to finally get their teams back into recruiting battles. Colorado State (7-6) will meet Washington State (6-6) in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday in Albuquerque in what is expected to be a showdown of two high-flying offenses.

''It's definitely a dream come true,'' said Colorado State offensive lineman Weston Richburg, a senior who has suffered through recent tough seasons. ''You want to make the postseason every year in college. Unfortunately, we weren't able to do that.''

During Washington State's postseason drought, safety Deone Bucannon slowly became the NCAA's active leader in solo tackles and joined Washington State's all-time leaders in interceptions. But getting into a bowl game and getting a winning record was more important, he said. ''Personally, individual stats don't really mean anything to me,'' Bucannon said. ''Being here is an honor and a blessing.''

The match-up brings together two second-year coaches - Rams coach Jim McElwain and Cougars coach Mike Leach- working to turn around their teams' fortunes with high-octane offenses.

Washington State opened 2013 with a heartbreaking 31-24 loss to Auburn, a team that is now in the BCS title game. And Colorado State played a respectable game against Alabama in a 31-6 loss.

''I think we got a lot out of going out and playing the University of Alabama,'' said McElwain. ''And came away feeling...yeah, we do belong.''

Leach said his team should have beaten Auburn and had to play four opponents who appear in the top 15 of the latest BSC standings. Despite that tough schedule, the Cougars were still able to make it to a bowl game and have a chance at a seven-win season for the first time since 2003.

But it's not going to stop Leach from taking creative chances, something he usually does, even if it means taking advantage of Albuquerque's high altitude.

''Yeah, the altitude,'' Leach said. ''We'll try (kicking a field goal) from 75 yards or so.''

Here are five things to know when Colorado State and Washington State play in the New Mexico Bowl:

DOUBLE ATTACK: The Rams are the only team in the nation to boast a 3,000-yard passer and a 1,500-yard runner. Running back Kapri Bibbs leads the nation with 28 rushing touchdowns, and quarterback Garrett Grayson ranks among the country's top 20 in yards passing (3,327). That one-two punch even impressed Leach, who said looking over footage of the pair led him to conclude the offense doesn't have a lot of weaknesses.

SPREAD OFFENSE: Leach's signature spread offense is led by junior quarterback Connor Halliday. He has tallied eight 300-yard games and four 4-touchdown games this season. He is passing up Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf in a number of categories, including career passing yards. He ranks fourth nationally in yards passing (4,189) and is tied for 13th with 28 touchdown passes.

KICKING IT: Cougars kicker Andrew Furney enters the New Mexico Bowl second in school history for career field goal percentage at .767. He kicked a 41-yard game winner against USC and his career total is 46 - third-most in school history. Leach said he will not have a problem asking Furney to kick a 50-yard-plus field goal if the game is on the line.

THE HANDS: Freshman Rams receiver Rashard Higgins has 64 receptions in his first 13 college games. That is the sixth-most in a single season in Colorado State history. He needs only six catches to become the third Rams player to have 70 or more receptions. He tied a school freshman record with 10 catches in a game against Boise State.

SNOW BOWL?: Parts of New Mexico are in for another round of winter weather this weekend and Albuquerque is facing a 20 percent chance of snow. Forecasters say the system could bring moderate snow to the southwest and south-central mountains overnight Friday and into Saturday. But snowstorms typically spare Albuquerque. Still, players may have to battle freezing temperatures and that may affect the high-flying offenses of both teams.

---

Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras

Tagged: Washington, Washington State, Colorado, New Mexico, Colorado State

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash