By Bill Stevens, WSU Athletics
PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State University Cougars have accepted an invitation to play in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 21. The game will be televised live nationally on ESPN and will be the first of 35 bowl games during the next month.
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“The Cougs are an exciting team with a marquee passing attack and a passionate fan base that has been very vocal about wanting to be here with their team,” bowl game director Jeff Siembieda said Sunday. “And it will be great to have head coach Mike Leach on the sidelines in Albuquerque. Local football fans have been yearning to see him here for a long time.”
The game will feature WSU against the Colorado State Rams (7-6) from the Mountain West Conference. This will mark the first meeting between the two teams. Under second-year head coach Mike Leach, the Cougars finished the regular season 6-6 overall, 4-5 in the Pac-12 and bowl eligible for the first time since the 2006 season.
“Playing in a bowl game will be a fabulous experience for Washington State and a just reward for this team,” said athletic director Bill Moos. “Over the past few weeks I have had the chance to talk with many bowl representatives and I believe the Gildan New Mexico Bowl will be a great event and something our fans, players and coaches will truly enjoy.”
WSU will make its first bowl appearance since 2003 and 11th overall. It will be the first appearance at the New Mexico Bowl; WSU previously played in the Rose Bowl (1916, 1931, 1998, 2003), the Holiday Bowl (1981, 2003), the Aloha Bowl (1988), the Copper Bowl (1992), the Alamo Bowl (1994) and the Sun Bowl (2001). The Cougars are 6-4 in bowl games.
“Throughout my career I have played in New Mexico a lot of times, I’ve visited New Mexico, I’ve skied in New Mexico and it’s a great place,” said WSU’s Leach. “There is a great spirit to the people there and we are honored to have the opportunity to go to Albuquerque to play another football game.”
The New Mexico Bowl began in 2006; it has hosted a Pac-12 team only once before – last season when Arizona won a shootout over Nevada, 49-48.