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No Holiday For Huskies: Preparing To Play OSU In Cactus Bowl

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Elaine Thompson
/
AP Photo

The University of Washington football team is spending the holiday break preparing for a battle against Oklahoma State University in the Cactus Bowl, which takes place on Friday, Jan. 2, in Tempe, Arizona.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says it may be one of the "lesser" bowl games, but it still has some value for UW.From Erratic To Problematic

The Huskies (8-5) have a better record than the OSU Cowboys (6-6). But Art says both teams have had their share of problems this season.

“(OSU has) had a wildly erratic season," Art said. "They barely lost to Florida State in the opener — Florida State being in the final four of this year’s playoffs. Then they won five in a row followed by five really bad losses by an average of about 26 points a game. They salvaged the season in their last game when they beat arch rival Oklahoma 38-35 in overtime."

Legal Trouble

Five days after the game against Oklahoma, police arrested one of Oklahoma State’s star players, Tyreek Hill, who scored a touchdown on a punt return against Oklahoma. He was arrested and charged with domestic abuse via strangulation.

"A very scary prospect that caused head coach Mike Gundy to basically fire Hill on the spot," Art said. "He is off the team. A lot of controversy surrounded that decision as well as the investigation. So they’re in a lot of tumult heading into this bowl game."

UW Not Immune To Off-Field Problems

Art draws a parallel to what new Huskies head coach Chris Petersen was going through at the beginning of the season.

“He threw half a dozen players off his team, Art said. "He also suspended quarterback Cyler Miles for an episode of fighting after the Super Bowl win in Seattle in early February. That caused Miles to miss most of spring.

"There are people who think he shouldn’t have played at all this fall, but Petersen suspended him only for a single game. The lost practice time has been a real problem for Miles," Art continued. "Only in the last couple three games did he seem to grow into the job and demonstrate that he was a Pac-12-level starting quarterback.

“That’s of value at the end of the season and that’s what they expect to try to exploit during these coming practices. This is an opportunity to get 15 practices that bowl-less teams don’t get."

'Lesser' Bowl Game Still Has Value

“The bowl season is thoroughly over-inflated from the standpoint of having mediocre teams like Oklahoma State at 6-6 getting into the postseason," Art said. "But that’s the way college football has worked for many years; it’s only going to get more bloated. But the coaches really do enjoy it because those extra practices really are valuable.

“It’s really valuable for the Huskies because Cyler Miles missed all of spring ball last year. He’s going to get a head start to solidifying his job as the starting quarterback for Washington. So, there is value even though no one may care about this outside of Oklahoma and Washington.”

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You can find Art Thiel’s work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between historylink.org and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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