Record: 8-4, 7-2 Pac-12
About the season: Washington State overcame early season losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State, winning eight in a row, including an impressive stretch against Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. But the Cougars are coming off back-to-back losses to Colorado and Washington.
Standouts: QB Luke Falk ranks fourth in the nation in passing yards per game (350.3) and has thrown 37 touchdown passes. WR Gabe Marks and DB Shalom Luani were first-team All-Pac-12 selections. Falk and DL Hercules Mata’afa were second-team all-conference selections.
Coach: Mike Leach is 29-33 in five seasons at Washington State. After two 3-9 seasons in his first three years there, the Cougars are 17-8 over the past two years. Leach went 84-43 in 10 years at Texas Tech. His Red Raiders erased a 31-point, second-half deficit to defeat Glen Mason’s Gophers 44-41 in the 2006 Insight Bowl.
Notable: This will be the Gophers’ first bowl opponent from the Pac-12 (formerly known as the Pac-10) since 2003, when they defeated Oregon 31-30 in the Sun Bowl.