The 2016 National Funding Holiday Bowl free pick features the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Washington State Cougars. The Golden Gophers come to this bowl having played a solid season. They’d like a win in this bowl to top it all off. Washington State had hoped to get a Rose Bowl berth but lost that in the final week. This is their consolation game.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-4 Overall, 5-4 Big Ten) finished fourth in the Big Ten West. They lost some big games. Losses to Penn State, #19 Nebraska, and #6 Wisconsin proved to top off what was a good but not great season for the Golden Gophers. The Washington State Cougars (8-4 Overall, 7-2 Pac-12 Conference) finished second, behind Washington, in the Pac-12 North. The Cougars has some solid wins, but lost their last two, including their final game 45-17 to Washington.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota is scoring an average of 30.3 PPG. The essence of their offense is the rush. They have 33 running TDs, more than four times as many as they’ve posted through the air. QB Mitch Leidner (56.4 COMP%, 7 TDs, 12 INTs) will be running most of this game with the rest of the Gopher backs. Leidner has 101 carries for 340 yards and 10 TDs. Rodney Smith leads all rushes with 223 carries, 1,084 yards and 15 TDs. WR Drew Wolitarsky (61 REC, 787 YDs, 12.9 AVG, 5 TDs) is by far the leading receiver.
The Golden Gopher defense is holding teams to 22.9 PPG. The defense has made 34 sacks, posted 96 TFL, and defended 41 passes. They’ve also caused 15 FF and made 8 picks, giving them a turnover margin of plus eight.
Washington State Cougars
Washington State has made 39 passing and 23 rushing touchdowns. They’re averaging 40.3 PPG. QB Luke Falk (71 COMP%, 37 TDs, 10 INTs) is going to pass often in this game. He’s got four reliable receivers to toss to, including Gabe Marks (85 REC, 867 YDs, 10.2 AVG, 13 TDs). Marks will be his primary outlet in this game. RBs James Williams (98 ATT, 573 YDs, 5.8 AVG, 6 TDs) and Jamal Morrow (85 ATT, 562 YDs, 6.6 VG, 5 TDs) offer excellent rushing options.
The Cougars are allowing opponents 27.2 PPG. They have made 17 sacks, 66 TFL, and 12 INTs. In addition, they have posted 31 PD, 21 QB hurries, and 11 FF Their turnover margin is plus six.
2016 National Funding Holiday Bowl Free Pick
In our 2016 National Funding Holiday Bowl free pick, we like Washington State at -8.5 and the over at 60.5. The Cougars have an offense that can put points on the board in various ways. These two team’s defenses bring good and fairly equal defenses to the field.