Editor’s note: This game has been canceled because of COVID-19 issues at Miami
With both teams changing on the fly, the under is our NCAAF pick for the December 31st Sun Bowl matchup between Washington State and Miami.
Washington State Cougars vs. Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Friday, December 31, 2021 – 12:00 PM EST at Sun Bowl Stadium
Expert Betting Analysis
Six years ago, the Miami Hurricanes met the Washington State Huskies for the first time. Ironically enough, it was at the 2015 Sun Bowl – ironic because it was a snowy day in El Paso. Washington State took advantage and beat the warm-weather Hurricanes 20-14, cashing in as 1.5-point favorites on the college football lines. That 62-point total didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting reached.
So here we are again. A lot of things have changed in six years; for example, the Hurricanes are 2.5-point favorites on the NCAAF odds board with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review), and the total’s a bit lower this time at 59.5 points. But this still looks like a good spot for both the underdog and the under. Should we fire up that classic two-team parlay? Or is a single bet the right approach for our college football picks?
We’re leaning towards the under here at the home office. It’s too early to say what the weather conditions will be like on December 31st, although the very long-range forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-50s. Not ideal for us, but there are other factors working in our favor – factors that were also in play six years ago.
Our angle: Coaching changes. Both these teams are in transition, with the Hurricanes making the more dramatic shift from Manny Diaz to Oregon’s Mario Cristobal. Jess Simpson, the defensive line coach, will be in charge of Miami for the Sun Bowl, although wide receivers coach Rob Likens will be calling the plays after offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee bailed to take the top job at SMU. Bless this mess.
Washington State’s situation isn’t quite as messy – but it’s messy. Nick Rolovich and four assistants were fired in October for not following the state’s vaccine mandate; defensive coordinator Jake Dickert was promoted on an interim basis, then was made full head coach after beating Washington in the Apple Cup.
Normally, this transition might make us bet the over. The switch from Rolovich’s preferred run-and-shoot offense to the Air Raid helped the Cougars pay the over in each of their last three games. However, Wazzu’s top running back, Max Borghi (5.5 yards per carry), has opted out for the NFL Draft, and former starting OT Cade Beresford is transferring to Boise State. Ouch.
This brings us back to 2015. The Hurricanes fired head coach Al Golden that year and replaced him with Mark Richt, but not before Larry Scott coached the Sun Bowl on an interim basis. Meanwhile, the Cougars didn’t have any issues (at least at the time) with Mike Leach, the man who brought the Air Raid to Pullman.
The loss of Borghi and Beresford makes us less interested in betting on Wazzu, but we’ll stick with the under for the rematch. It’s just the right thing to do – and 100 percent of early bettors agree, according to the consensus reports at press time.
*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.