Holiday Bowl Boycott Fails, Minnesota Prepares For Loss To WSU
A Holiday Bowl boycott by Minnesota in an effort to avoid playing WSU has failed. Now, the Washington State Cougars will show the Minnesota Golden Gophers how to play some college football on December 27. A report by the Associated Press revealed how the Minnesota players who were boycotting the suspensions of their teammates decided it was best to start distancing themselves from the controversy.
Ten Minnesota players had been suspended following a university investigation into sexual assault accusations. Four players were originally suspended for the first three games of the college football season after a woman accused the players of sexual assault. She would later receive a settlement, and legal charges against the players were dropped. An investigation continued by the university, with the end result being the suspensions of 10 players from participating in the Holiday Bowl. That led to the boycott by their teammates.
The 10 players who are suspended from playing in the Holiday Bowl are Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson, Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Chenault, Mark Williams, and Antoine Winfield Jr. Many of those players comprise the starting secondary for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, putting the team in a tenuous position against one of the best passing offenses in college football. NFL prospect and WSU starting quarterback Luke Falk could be looking at a huge day on the field.
The ESPN matchup predictor gives the Washington State Cougars a 71 percent chance of winning the Holiday Bowl and improving to 9-4 on the season. WSU is favored by nine points in the game, with an over/under line of 61 points. Breaking down the odds for the matchup a bit further, WSU was 6-6 against the spread this year, while Minnesota was just 4-5-3.
During the 2016 college football season, WSU lost its first two games against Eastern Washington and Boise State before winning eight straight. The winning streak included victories over Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State. The team then ended up losing to highly-ranked Colorado and Washington to wrap up the regular season.
Minnesota finished the season with an identical 8-4 record, losing to Penn State, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Notable wins for the team came against Northwestern, Purdue, and Maryland. The Gophers also lost their last regular season game, dropping into the Holiday Bowl with a 5-4 record inside the Big Ten standings.
Minnesota had no impressive victories during the season, losing against every top opponent on the schedule. That does not bode well for the Gophers as they prepare to play an offense that ranked 19th in the nation. Can the Minnesota defense and special teams keep the game close enough to even be competitive in the second half? Does could this become a one-sided blowout that has Cougars fans cheering well into the spring and summer months?
There is an argument to be made for Minnesota playing with “house money” in this game, as they are favored to lose by all college football analysts and knowledgeable fans. Missing 10 players who could have played roles in the Holiday Bowl game puts the team in a position where they have nothing to lose. When a loss is expected, a win could be that much sweeter for the fans of the Golden Gophers.
For the Washington State Cougars, this is an opportunity to put on a show for the national audience. It could be a huge recruiting tool, especially with the news that star quarterback Luke Falk is coming back to WSU for his senior season. Winning this game by blowing out the Golden Gophers could certainly bring a lot of positive attention to the football program, the coaching staff, and the players who are returning for the 2017 college football season.
The Washington State vs. Minnesota Holiday Bowl is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT on December 27. ESPN will air the game for a national audience.
[Featured Image by Dylan Buell/Getty Images]