Pac-12: Kapri Bibbs


Washington State… well, as your rivals often joke, you "Couged it."

It was over when: Colorado State kicker Jared Roberts booted a 41-yard field goal as time expired, capping an epic meltdown by Washington State in a 48-45 Rams victory in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque. The Cougars (6-7) surrendered 18 points in the final 2:52, fumbling twice to give the seemingly beaten Rams (8-6) new life.

Game ball goes to: Colorado State running back Kapri Bibbs, who was nursing a turf toe injury, rushed for 169 yards on 27 carries with three touchdowns, including a 75-yard effort and a 1-yard burst that tied the game in the waning moments. He averaged 6.3 yards per rush.

Unsung hero of the game: Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson completed 31 of 50 passes for 369 yards and two touchdowns, leading an offense that gained 595 yards against a Cougars defense that was surprisingly hapless and unsound.

Stat of the game: The Cougars rushed for minus-10 yards. And when they tried to run the ball in order to run out the clock, it became a comedy of errors. Just after replay officials saved the Cougars from a Connor Halliday fumble on a peculiar read-option keeper, Jeremiah Laufasa fumbled on the next play, setting up the tying touchdown and two-point conversion.

What it means: It means most of the momentum Washington State gained from playing in its first bowl game since 2003 reverts to frustration. The Cougars will almost certainly make every postseason bowl game review for being the bowl season's biggest chokers.

Instead of finishing 7-6, the Cougs finish with a losing record for the seventh consecutive season.

The final three minutes of the game were devoid of poise and execution. This one will bite at coach Mike Leach and his players for a long time, at least until the 2014 season opener.

It also means the Pac-12 loses its first game in 11 matchups this year against the Mountain West Conference.

Recall this week when Pac-12 fans were irritated with ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach for picking the Pac-12 to go 3-6 this bowl season? Well, he picked Colorado State to beat Washington State.

To watch the trophy presentation of the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, click here.

New Mexico Bowl preview

December, 21, 2013
12/21/13
9:00
AM ET
Washington State will take on Colorado State on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET (ESPN) in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.

Here's a quick preview:

Who To Watch: As Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday goes, so goes the Cougars’ pass-happy offense. The key for Halliday is protecting the football. His 21 interceptions this year were five more than any other Pac-12 QB. For the Rams, it's all about running back Kapri Bibbs, who rushed for 1,572 yards and 28 touchdowns this year, averaging a stout 6.2 yards per carry.

What To Watch: Again, it starts with Halliday and Bibbs. Colorado State ranked 100th in the nation in pass-efficiency defense, so Halliday and his corps of receivers should have a good day. The Cougars ranked ninth in the Pac-12 in run defense, yielding 184 yards per game. Of course, the Cougs played four teams that ranked in the nation's top 23 in rushing.

Why To Watch: Because it's the first bowl game! Because the Cougars are excited to be playing in their first bowl since 2003. Because Mike Leach might say something amusing to a sideline reporter, before, during or after the game.

Predictions: Kevin: Washington State 41, Colorado State 28. Ted: Washington State 45, Colorado State 20.

Bowl primer: Gildan New Mexico

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
9:00
AM ET
Today we begin a look at each of the Pac-12’s opponents during the bowl season. We start with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl and will do one a day through next Friday.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 21, 11 a.m. PT, ESPN
Washington State (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-6)

Colorado State Rams

Coach: Jim McElwain (second year)
Record: 7-6, 5-3 Mountain West
Combined opponents’ record: 62-95 (.394)
Common opponents: None, though Colorado State did lose to Colorado in the season opener.
Leading passer: Garrett Grayson, 266-428 (62.2) for 3,327 yards with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Leading rusher: Kapri Bibbs, 254-1,572 (6.2 yards per carry), 28 touchdowns.
Leading receiver: Rashard Higgins, 64-795, six touchdowns.
Leading tackler: Max Morgan, 129. Though it's worth noting Shaquil Barrett has 20.5 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks.

What to know: Colorado State is bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. The Rams were worried they might be the odd men out of the Mountain West, which had seven bowl-eligible teams and six contracted agreements. In a six degrees of Kevin Bacon turn of events, it was the San Jose State Spartans who were left out. That’s Mike MacIntyre’s former team, and he picked up his first win as Colorado’s coach by beating the Rams in the season opener. So it all comes full circle.

Once regulars in the postseason under Sonny Lubick -- when they went to nine bowl games in a 12-season stretch -- the Rams hit a postseason dry spell.

Their resume isn’t particularly sparkling, but it’s hard to ignore Bibbs’ numbers. They only played one ranked team this season and it was No. 1 Alabama. And they lost 31-6. Their marquee win is probably a 38-17 win at home over Nevada. And they should be plenty familiar with Albuquerque, having won there on Nov. 16 when they topped New Mexico 66-42.

Key matchup: Stopping Bibbs has to be the top priority. The last time he was in New Mexico he rushed for 291 yards and six touchdowns. He leads the nation in rushing touchdowns and is top 10 in rushing yards and top 15 in carries. That puts the pressure on the Washington State front seven, which has yielded 22 rushing touchdowns and allows 184 rushing yards per game. But playing in the Pac-12, the Cougars are no strangers to elite backs. They gave up 132 yards and a touchdown to Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and 200 yards and a score to Washington's Bishop Sankey. Both are Doak Walker finalists.

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