The Hyundai Sun Bowl didn’t have any sun. And for a game showcasing Miami and Washington State, it didn’t have nearly as much offense as expected.
A game lacking in scoring seemingly favored the Hurricanes, but the Cougars’ defense stymied the opposing offense. A slew of Miami mistakes helped Washington State seal a 20-14 win.
What the win means for Washington State: A bowl win creating offseason momentum can sometimes be overstated, but not when the win comes for a program that hasn’t won a bowl game since 2003. It’s also the Cougars’ first nine-win season since 2003. Mike Leach is in the process of building the Washington State program, and now the Cougars have some hardware to rally around during offseason conditioning. With quarterback Luke Falk entering his fourth year in 2016, the Cougars should make noise in the Pac-12 North Division again.
What the loss means for Miami: The loss doesn’t mean much in the big picture for the Hurricanes, other than they have not won a bowl game since 2006. The Mark Richt era now officially begins for the Hurricanes, but the previous era ended in typical Miami fashion. The former Georgia coach was given a good idea of what he is inheriting: an inconsistent team that struggles to get out of its own way. The most penalized team in the country erased a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit, but a penalty nullified the go-ahead touchdown. Miami fumbled two plays later at the 5-yard line. No doubt Miami wanted to end Larry Scott’s interim tenure with a win, but the mood should change in Coral Gables in the next few days with Richt taking over. This loss will hurt until then, though.
Uh, what? After a Miami penalty nullified the Canes’ go-ahead score, a long punt return set them up in Washington State territory with a few minutes left on the following drive. On the first play, Miami went with a halfback pass. In the snow. And wind. And with Brad Kaaya as its quarterback. Naturally it was intercepted. Because it’s Miami, the Canes called a timeout before Washington State’s first play on the ensuing drive, too.
Stat of the game: Miami had nine penalties for 98 yards, and each successive penalty was more costly than the next. In the first half, the Hurricanes extended a Washington State drive twice with third-down penalties. It led to a touchdown. The Cougars kicked a field goal on their next drive just before halftime with help from two Miami personal fouls. Miami still was in position to win, but a block in the back inside the Washington State 1-yard line took a touchdown off the board. Miami’s next three offensive plays included two turnovers.