Washington State vs. Central Michigan Sun Bowl Expert Betting Analysis

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Running back Max Borghi #21 of the Washington State Cougars. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

The Pac-12’s Washington State Cougars will line up against the MAC’s Central Michigan Chippewas at high noon on New Year’s Eve in the Sun Bowl.

Let’s analyze this matchup and end 2021 on a winning note in our college football picks

Washington State Cougars vs. Central Michigan Chippewas

Friday, December 31, 2021 – 12:00 PM EST at Sun Bowl Stadium 

Washington State may have had a rough start to the 2021 season but they ended in fine fashion, carving out a 7-5 overall record and winning three of their last four games. In their most recent performance, the Cougars punctuated their season with a dominating 41-13 victory over an old rival, Washington, and took home the Apple Cup while snapping their seven-game losing streak to the Huskies. 

The 27-point victory was the largest margin to date and narrowly eclipsed the 26-point win the Cougars notched over the Huskies on November 24th, 1973. "It's special. Coug Nation deserves it, this team deserved it, the seniors deserved it," Washington State running back Max Borghi said. "I can't really put words into it yet, it hasn't really sunk in. But holding that Apple Cup trophy is something we've all dreamt about and it was incredible." 

Speaking of Max Borghi, the senior running back led all rushers with 129 yards on 22 carries and two trips to the end zone. Sophomore quarterback, Jayden de Laura, passed for 245 yards and was surgically precise in connecting for 27-of-32 passes.  

The Cougars’ defense garnered only one sack but the secondary was on the prowl throughout the game, intercepting Washington’s freshman passer, Sam Huard, on four occasions.  

Chippewas Enter Sun Bowl While Hot 

Central Michigan got hot in the middle of their season and never cooled down as they chalked up six wins over their last seven performances with a one-point loss to Northern Illinois wedged in between. It should also be noted that Central Michigan won their last four games by an average of nearly 17 points per game. 

The Chippewas ended their season on a high note when they welcomed Eastern Michigan to Mount Pleasant and proceeded to take control of the game, ending with a 31-10 victory over the Eagles.

Special teams have been a big advantage for the Chippewas throughout the season and it manifested yet again in a 100-yard kick return by freshman, Marion Lukes. Not surprisingly, it was the longest return in the history of the Central Michigan football program.  

Freshman quarterback, Daniel Richardson, would throw for 130 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one pick while freshman running back, Lew Nichols III, would have a stellar performance in racking up 194 yards and a touchdown.  

Senior wideout, JaCorey Sullivan, would lead all Central Michigan receivers with four catches for 46 yards including two touchdown receptions. But credit the Chippewas pass rush for their seven sacks, hurrying Eastern Michigan’s senior quarterback, Ben Bryant, throughout the afternoon and keeping him off of the scorer’s sheet.  

Wanna Make a Bet? 

The college football odds at all of the best online sportsbooks are installing Washington State as ever-so-slight favorites over Central Michigan in this one. It should be noted that the Chippewas are a replacement for the Miami Hurricanes originally slated to play in this bowl game but COVID changed those plans and here we are with two evenly matched teams squaring off on New Year’s Eve Day.  

Central Michigan boasts an impressive aerial attack, averaging over 270 yards per game, ranked 25th in that category. But the Washington State secondary is a good cover unit while their pass rush is getting better by the game and together they have held opposition passers to 217.4 yards per contest. The long and short of it is that the Chippewas will get their share of yards through the air but will likely be more apt to run the ball against a pedestrian Cougars’ run-stop unit. 

However, what tips the balance of power in this game is the Washington State passing attack, currently averaging 260.3 yards per game, against a woeful Central Michigan pass defense, surrendering nearly 263 yards per game and good for 114th in the nation. This is the glaring mismatch that will be exploited and Jayden de Laura will feast on this porous defensive unit.  I predict a double-digit win for the Cougars so lay the small number and cash a ticket! 

NCAAF Pick: Washington State -7.5 (-108) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Washington State -7.5 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.