Published: Fri, December 30, 2016
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

WSU's Holiday Bowl turned into The Nightmare After Christmas

Minnesota came into Tuesday's Holiday Bowl missing 10 players, including several on defense, but still managed to put forth its best defensive performance of the season.

It's just that, looking back on it, it wasn't their season, either.

I would feel pretty confident with this matchup if I was a Washington State fan, but with the whole boycotting situation you never know what that could mean.

The Golden Gophers have a popular leader at quarterback as well in Mitch Leidner, a senior who has been starting games for the Golden Gophers since he was a freshman.

On Wednesday morning, running back Rodney Smith, who scored the game-sealing touchdown and was the Holiday Bowl offensive MVP, echoed the company line with a tweet saying, "Respect your opponent". Likely options at safety are Duke McGhee and Kunle Ayinde, two experienced backups. It looked like a sure interception for the Cougars. Minnesota also won the mental game. The Golden Gophers, on the other hand, are ranked No. 108 in the nation in the air - throwing more INTs (12) than passing TDs (8).

The Cougars capped their first possession, a 17-play, 76-yard drive lasting 6:23, with a field goal after stalling at the Minnesota 9.

In the postgame presser, head coach Tracy Claeys revealed that Smith offered to play defensive back and had even practiced at cornerback leading up the bowl game.

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He also remembered Madan Mohan Malaviya on his birth anniversary while also wishing ex-PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birthday. PM's statement also indicated it will still take few more days for the situation to normalise.

Kaler and Director of Athletics Mark Coyle agreed December 16 night to give all 10 players "a fair hearing, which includes a diverse review panel" and a "showing of support for our team and the character shown by the great majority of our players", Wolitarsky said. I didn't think we were very mentally tough as far as getting discouraged. His character speaks for itself.

Minnesota finished the season with an identical 8-4 record, losing to Penn State, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. I wish his pick six hadn't been negated by replay, because that would've been a heck of a way to end his career as a Gopher.

Minnesota had a surprisingly strong season in the Big Ten West. It's been a spectacular season for the first-year starter at kicker.

The game is at four p.m. today and will be aired on ESPN. The Cougars defeated the Beavers, 35-31, on October 29, while the Golden Gophers were 30-23 winners to open the season on September 1.

WSUs offense played as poorly as it has since Luke Falk became the quarterback, an era ago, and when faced with the opportunity for redemption instead made a decisive mistake. Now they face Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl in the middle of the week following Christmas - how pumped are they to play tonight? Minnesota rushed for 151 yards, giving the Gophers just 280 yards in total offense.

Leidner completed 11-of-20 passes in the game for 129 yards.

But Marks answered the question with less satisfaction.

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