University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes to play Washington State in Sun Bowl on Dec. 26

UM tailback Joe Yearby gains yardage against Georgia Tech at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. Miami won 38-21.
UM tailback Joe Yearby gains yardage against Georgia Tech at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. Miami won 38-21.

It won’t be a white Christmas in New York for the Miami Hurricanes.

But it will be a Christmas in the desert.

The Hurricanes, many of whom said they wanted to spend Christmas in New York City at the Pinstripe Bowl, instead will be going to the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, to play Washington State at 2 p.m. Dec. 26.

The game will be televised on CBS.

“They’re pretty hot,’’ Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas told the Miami Herald, regarding the Canes. “They have an excellent brand, they bring a rich history, they’re popular in El Paso, and they’re big on TV.’’

The Washington State Cougars (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12), who have never played Miami (8-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), are coached by Mike Leach. They had their best finish since the 2003 season, when the Cougars went 10-3.

Behind redshirt sophomore quarterback Luke Falk, the Cougars have the No. 1 passing offense in the nation, averaging 397 passing yards per game. They are 22nd nationally in total offense and 91st in total defense.

Falk, now healed from a concussion and ready to go, has completed 418 of 591 passes (70.7 percent) for 4,266 yards and 36 touchdowns, with eight interceptions.

Leach, who previously coached at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2009, should draw plenty of fans in El Paso. He’s known for his innovative mind and his pass-happy “Air-Raid’’ offense that utilizes the spread. Leach’s offense has passed for 4,764 yards this season and run for 959. Earlier this month Leach was named the 2015 Pac-12 Co-Coach of the Year along with Stanford’s David Shaw.

The Cougars have wins against Rutgers, Wyoming, Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Colorado. They’ve lost to Portland State, California, Stanford and Washington.

Miami will be coached by Larry Scott, who was named interim coach after Al Golden was fired in late October, and who has led the Hurricanes to four victories in the past five games.

“The whole Hurricane family is excited about the opportunity to come back out there to El Paso to represent our brand, represent our great university,’’ Scott said Sunday night on a conference call with bowl officials. “We know it’s going to be a really good game with that wide-open offense that Washington State brings.”

Newly hired Canes coach Mark Richt said Friday that he wanted to attend whichever bowl Miami was assigned.

The Canes last played at the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, 2010, with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland the interim coach for the bowl after Randy Shannon was fired at the end of the regular season. Up in a stadium box that day watching his new team: Golden.

UM lost 33-17 in that Sun Bowl to Notre Dame.

Scott said he had not yet heard from Richt regarding where he stood in terms of his future with the team. He said he was concerned at this point with getting the Canes ready for the bowl. The first two UM practices are Friday and Saturday.

The Sun Bowl, an artificial turf stadium, seats 50,426 and sits in a city on the banks of the Rio Grande River and a short walk from the Mexican border. It is the second oldest bowl and in a city that loves the Hurricanes.

The last time Miami won a bowl game was against Nevada in the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl. Since then, the Canes have lost to Cal (2008 Emerald), Wisconsin (2009 Champs Sports), Notre Dame (2010 Sun), Louisville (2013 Russell Athletic) and South Carolina (2014 Duck Commander Independence).

The bowl for which the Canes had been pining, the Pinstripe at Yankee Stadium, chose a 7-5 Duke over Miami to face Indiana (6-6) on the day after Christmas.

UM quarterback Brad Kaaya, a Southern Californian and one of several Hurricanes who wanted to check out New York City, said, nonetheless, after UM’s final regular-season game at Pittsburgh that “playing against the Pac-12 would be awesome just because I’m from out there.’’


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