Cactus Bowl Capsule
Oklahoma State (6-6) vs. Washington (8-5) at Tempe, Arizona, 10:15 p.m. EST Friday (ESPN)
Line: Washington by 6 1/2.
Series record: Tied 1-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Washington is trying to cap a successful first season under coach Chris Petersen. Oklahoma State is attempting to build confidence toward next season after barely becoming bowl eligible with a young team.
KEY MATCHUP: Oklahoma State’s offensive line vs. Washington’s pass rush. The Huskies have one of the most aggressive, disruptive defenses in the nation, led by three first-team All-Americans. The Huskies were third nationally with 3.77 sacks per game and outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha led the country with 18 sacks. OSU’s line has allowed 37 sacks, so protecting freshman QB Mason Rudolph will be paramount.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Oklahoma State: Rudolph. The freshman was thrust into the spotlight in November, when he replaced Daxx Garman and has overcome a few freshman mistakes with some big plays. He solidified his place in the eyes of OSU fans by leading a late comeback in a win over rival Oklahoma to make the Cowboys bowl eligible in the final game of the regular season.
Washington: RB/LB Shaq Thompson. The multi-talented junior may be the most dynamic player in the country, with four touchdowns on defense and two more on offense. The first-team All-American was a full-time running back for three games in late October and November, then went back to the defensive side exclusively for the final three games. Wherever he plays, he’s sure to have an impact.
FACTS AND FIGURES: Oklahoma State will play in its school-record ninth consecutive bowl. … Washington QB Cyler Miles has thrown for 2,129 yards with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions. … The Cowboys will play without RB/PR Tyreek Hill, who was dismissed from the team after being arrested and charged with punching and choking his pregnant girlfriend. … Huskies coach Chris Petersen has the most wins (eight) of any first-year coach in school history.