Sun Bowl Picks, Predictions and Odds: Washington State vs. Central Michigan

Dec. 31, 2021
Jonathan Willis
VI Betting Expert

Another makeshift Bowl Game is on tap for Friday morning as the Central Michigan Chippewas accepted a last minute invite to take on the Washington State Cougars in this year's Sun Bowl. Opening kick is slated for 12:00 p.m. ET and will air on CBS from the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

Score Prediction

Washington State 38, Central Michigan 24

Best Bets

Washington State -6.5 (-120) at FanDuel

Sun Bowl Predictions

Many observers would be surprised to know that the Sun Bowl is one of the oldest bowl games in existence. This game had been played annually since 1935 prior to its cancellation due to COVID last year. It came close to being cancelled for the second year in a row when the Miami Hurricanes had to pull out of the game, but the powers that be scrambled to replace them with the Central Michigan Chippewas to give the Washington State Cougars an opponent on Friday.

Both the Washington State Cougars and Central Michigan Chippewas ended the season on a high note. Washington State went 8-1 ATS in its last nine games, and its lone ATS loss was by a mere half-point. Central Michigan covered the number in its last four games and won six of its last seven games with the only loss being by a single point to MAC champion Northern Illinois.

These teams would have been great upset picks in their original bowl matchups, but they will have to square off in El Paso instead as a result of Miami and Boise State backing out of their games due to COVID. Washington State has overcome a lot this season, and the Cougars will cap off their season with a double-digit win over Central Michigan.

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Sun Bowl Betting Resources

  • Matchup: Pac-12 vs. MAC
  • Date: Friday, December 31, 2021
  • Venue: Sun Bowl
  • Location: El Paso, Texas
  • TV-Time: CBS, 12:00 p.m. ET

Washington State Cougars Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 7-5
  • ATS: 8-4
  • O/U: 6-6

Jayden de Laura has had a great season for Washington State. There were fears that the young quarterback might regress after Nick Rolovich and half the staff were fired for refusing to get the COVID vaccine, but those fears proved to be unfounded. De Laura completed 40 of 55 passes for 504 yards with four touchdowns and no picks in blowout wins over Washington and Arizona in his last two starts.

The Cougars have two receivers to watch in Travell Harris and Calvin Jackson Jr. Harris had 73 receptions for 801 yards and nine touchdowns, and Jackson caught 63 passes for 955 yards and seven scores this year.

Washington State throws a lot of short passes in this system. However, there is something of a ground game unlike what we saw under Mike Leach. Max Borghi ran for 880 yards (5.5 YPC) and 12 touchdowns this season, and Deon McIntosh averaged 4.8 YPC while running for more than 500 yards.

This defense was surprisingly solid in 2021. Washington State ranked 39th in scoring defense (24.3 PPG) and 51st in total defense (375.5 YPG). Ron Stone Jr. was a First Team All-Pac 12 selection, and he was tied for fourth on the team in tackles and tied for first in sacks.

Central Michigan Chippewas Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 8-4
  • ATS: 7-5
  • O/U: 5-7

Lew Nichols is one of the most underrated running backs in the nation. Nichols led the country in rushing and was the MAC Offensive Player of the Year after topping 1,700 rushing yards (5.5 YPC) and 15 touchdowns. He carved up MAC defenses over the second half of the season, but he had just 12 carries for 18 yards against LSU and 12 carries for 21 yards against Miami of Ohio.

Freshman Daniel Richardson was not recruited by any of the major Florida schools, but he was on Jim McElwain’s radar from his time in the Sunshine State. Richardson is only 5’10, yet he was solid under center for the Chippewas this season. We will see whether or not his explosiveness transfers outside of the MAC though.

Central Michigan does a good job stopping the run. Opponents are averaging just 3.6 YPC against this front seven, but the secondary is one of the worst in the country. The Chips are allowing 8.4 YPA and 285.5 YPG through the air.

Washington State has gone UNDER the point total in four of its last five Bowl Games (AP)

Inside the Stats - Washington State Cougars

  • Record: 7-5
  • VI Ranking: 45
  • Points Scored: 341
  • Points Allowed: 291
  • PS/G: 28.4 (67th)
  • PA/G: 24.2 (47th)

Inside the Stats - Central Michigan Chippewas

  • Record: 8-4
  • VI Ranking: 73
  • Points Scored: 396
  • Points Allowed: 314
  • PS/G: 33 (31st)
  • PA/G: 26.2 (64th)

Key Players to Watch

  • WAZZ: Jayden De Laura - QB (220/341, 2,757 yards, 23 TD, 9 INT)
  • WAZZ: Max Borghi - RB (160 carries, 880 yards, 12 TD)
  • CMU: Daniel Richardson - QB (172/281, 2,392 yards, 23 TD, 5 INT)
  • CMU: Lew Nichols - RB (311 carries, 1,708 yards, 15 TD)

Sun Bowl Betting Conclusion

The Chippewas would have been a game opponent for many teams, but this is a bad matchup. Washington State can throw on these defensive backs and win this game by multiple scores.

Sun Bowl Betting Trends

  • Washington State has covered the spread in eight straight games when facing a non-AP-ranked school.
  • Washington State has gone UNDER the point total in four of its last five Bowl Games.
  • Central Michigan has covered the spread in four straight games.
  • Central Michigan has covered the spread in three of its last four games when playing as the underdog.