A Bowl of True Parody
No Bowl features more contrasting styles than the Cheez-It Bowl
Who: Washington State Cougars vs. Air Force Falcons
When: Friday, December 27, 2019 (8:30 p.m. MT)
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Stadium: Chase Field (seating capacity 48,686)
Payout: $1,625,550 per team
How We Got Here
After back to back disappointing seasons which saw Air Force miss the Bowl season in 2017 and 2018, the Falcons rebounded in grand fashion in 2019. Air Force won a total of 10 games the previous two seasons combined, before matching that win total this season and posting a 7-1 conference record.
The Coug’s on the other hand started the season off strong at 3-0, before losing a game to UCLA in spectacular fashion. This was a game which they held a 35-17 lead to start the second half, scored 63 points and still lost the game. This was emblematic of Wazzu’s season this year, which they concluded with a 6-6 record.
Meet the Competitors
The Washington State Cougars compete out of the Pac-12 Conference’s North Division. They are coached by one of the most creative offensive minds in all of football, Mike Leach. This is a team that isn’t just entertaining because of their stat stuffing, air-raid offense. The Cougars have finally found consistent success since landing Leach, earning Bowl invitations in six of his seven years in Pullman.
The United States Air Force Academy Falcons play in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference. Air Force, like the other military Academies are known for running the triple option offense, which in practice is as opposite their foes in this Bowl match-up as could be. While the Falcons may have been absent the Bowl season the previous two years, under Troy Calhoun, they have earned Bowl invitations in 10 of his 13 seasons as head coach.
This game has all the makings of an absolute classic with the contrasting styles and each teams ability to score. But we can talk more about that in the preview, closer to the game. What can’t be overstated is how this game features two of the best coaches on the West Coast.
And this Bowl also features two of the quirkiest coaches to ever adorn the whistles. Reporters and pundits alike have to be salivating at the potential sound bytes that will emanate from Leach and Calhoun.
Interestingly enough, these two teams have never faced each other, so there is no historical context. The Falcons did however face one of the most prolific passers in NCAA history, Case Keenum and the Houston Cougars in back to back Bowl games, in 2008 and 2009.
This was during Kevin Sumlin’s “hay day” as a coach, where his offenses were racking up yards and points at a torrent pace. Air Force split the two games, losing one and winning the other. Air Force also faced the Jared Goff led air raid attack for the Cal Golden Bears back in 2015, and it didn’t go so well.
All of this to say, even though they may have never played Wazzu, or do not face a true air raid passing offense on a regular basis, they have experienced it in the Calhoun era. And they can certainly expect another dose of it in Arizona.