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Miami vs. Washington State Sun Bowl Features 2 Top Rising Quarterbacks

Photo: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire

If you like watching high-octane offenses, guided by two of the nations’ biggest up-and-coming quarterbacks, you’re going to love the Hyundai Sun Bowl. That’s where a couple of sophomores are expected to get together to see which can light it up best.

Miami meets Washington State in the 2015 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tx. The 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 26 kickoff features a pair of sophomore quarterbacks that will finish stellar seasons and shine optimism on their respective programs for an even brighter 2016.

It will be Miami’s 39th bowl appearance and third consecutive postseason trip. The ‘Canes are 19-19 all-time in bowl games. Miami hasn’t won a bowl game since a 21-20 victory over Nevada in 2006 at the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho. The Hurricanes enter the Sun Bowl having lost in six of their last seven bowl game appearances. Prior to that, Miami had won seven of eight bowl games.

The ‘Canes and Cougars have never met on the football field.

Brad Kaaya leads the Miami (8-4) passing attack while Washington State (8-4) counters with the highly-talented Luke Falk. The Wazzou signal-caller averaged 406.7 passing yards per game and led the nation prior to the Colorado game in which he suffered a concussion that caused him to miss the majority of it plus the regular season finale against Washington. A Falk-less Cougars team was demolished, 45-10, in that rivalry game.

Still, even in playing just 10-plus games this season, Falk led the Pac-12 and finished fourth in the nation in passing with 4,266 yards. He was second in the Pac-12 and fourth in the nation with 36 touchdown passes. He led the Pac-12 with 39 total touchdowns.

In head coach Mike Leach’s pass-happy offensive scheme, Falk doesn’t just throw the football, he throws it with accuracy. Falk led the nation in pass attempts (591) and pass completions (418). He led the Pac-12 and was second in the nation with an unbelievable 70.7 pass completion percentage.

This guy is the real deal and he puts the Cougars in the end zone. Wazzou scored at least four touchdowns in all but one of the 10 full games in which Falk played. The Cougars scored 45-or-more in three of those games.

One thing is for sure, in Leach’s system, Falk is going to put it up a bunch. In 10 full games he averaged 56 pass attempts, completing 39. Falk was intercepted only eight times all season and finished the regular season with a QB rating of 148.8.

And it didn’t matter where he played, Falk had success. In fact, he was slightly better on the road throwing for 2,217 (217-for-304) with just two interceptions. At home he threw for 2,049 yards (201-for-287) with six picks. He split right down the middle his 36 touchdowns; 18 at home and 18 on the road.

Kaaya’s numbers aren’t quite as gaudy but impressive nonetheless. He finished second in the ACC with 3,019 passing yards and third in the conference with 61.7 pass completion percentage. Kaaya also missed a game with a concussion.

It may not be the bowl Miami fans were hoping for, but this game has all the makings of a high-scoring, entertaining event.

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