WSU will play Fresno State on national televison

Cougs trying to play without some massive pieces in Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl



The WSU football team runs onto the field before the Apple Cup, Nov. 26.

TREVOR JUNT, Evergreen deputy sports editor

WSU will play in their seventh straight bowl game against the Fresno State Bulldogs Saturday.

Fresno State is currently on an eight-game win streak which helped them secure the Mountain West Conference title over Boise State.

Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener has probably been the biggest reason for their success.

On the season, Haener has thrown for 2,616 yards on 72.6% completion with 18 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Haener has risen his draft stock all season, playing very well and becoming a top-10 quarterback in the upcoming 2023 draft.

Fresno State’s leading receiver is Jalen Moreno-Cropper with 82 catches for 1,051 yards and five touchdowns. Nikko Remigio is second on the team in receiving with 69 receptions for 768 yards and five touchdown grabs.

Jordan Mims is Fresno State’s leading rusher. He has 243 rushes for 1,161 yards and a whopping 16 touchdowns on the season.

The Bulldogs’ defense has also been locked in, only allowing 15 points per game over their eight-game winning streak. Linebacker Levelle Bailey led the team with 82 tackles and defensive back Cam Lockridge with eight interceptions.

Fresno State sits at 9-4 coming up on the bowl game.

WSU sits at an odd place before this bowl game. Their best defensive player, Daiyan Henley has opted out to train for the NFL draft. Their No.1 and No.3 receivers have either transferred or entered the transfer portal. Their other two best linebackers Francisco Mauigoa, who is fourth on the team in tackles has entered the transfer portal and Travion Brown, who is sixth-ranked on the team in tackles has entered the portal as well.

Henley has almost 40 tackles more than the next Coug, as he is supporting from the sidelines it will have a huge impact on the defense on the field to be missing their leader.

WSU’s defensive coordinator, Brian Ward has taken a job at Arizona State and will not be calling the defensive plays during the game. Offensive coordinator Eric Morris has just been hired as the head coach of North Texas.

Therefore, WSU head coach Jake Dickert will be calling the defensive plays, offensive line coach Clay McGuire and receivers coach Joel Filani make the offensive play calls.

With the change coming to the team, Dickert was adamant that the players entering the lineup are ready. That they have been preparing with the team all season, that they are not new and are ready for the prospect of starting.

“The guys that are gonna play are the guys that have been on our team the whole season. Right, I’m excited about that,” Dickert said. “Those aren’t new players. Those are Cougs. Those are guys that we’ve invested in for a long time and are excited to be out there and playing.”

This will be a tough and hard-fought game from both sides. The defense will have to make up for missing their top linebackers. The offense will have to make up for missing two of their top three receivers and the entire team will miss both coordinators. The Cougs are on an uphill climb to try to win this game over Fresno State.

Fresno State is a 4-point favorite over WSU, but ESPN gives WSU a 57% chance to win this game.

The Cougs will face the Bulldogs at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in SoFi Stadium for the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl. The game will be broadcast on ABC.