Central Michigan heading to Sun Bowl to face Washington State

Bret Bloomquist
El Paso Times

After a frantic day of searching, the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl saved the game by picking up Central Michigan on Monday night to face Washington State on Friday morning.

The Chippewas were in Tucson to play Boise State in the Arizona Bowl. However, earlier on Monday, Boise State had too many positive tests for COVID and pulled out of the Friday game. The Arizona Bowl, as a result, has been canceled, becoming the fourth bowl game called off this season, joining the Hawaii Bowl, Military Bowl and Fenway Bowl.

Central Michigan, a Mid-American Conference team that went 8-4 this year, replaces Miami, which went into a COVID shutdown last week and pulled out of the Sun Bowl Sunday night, shortly after Washington State’s airport arrival.

MORE:Complete college football bowl schedule, results for the 2021 season

Washington State had its first Sun Bowl practice at the Eastwood (Texas) High School on Monday.

Central Michigan became a leading candidate to replace Miami by early Monday when Boise State’s status became iffy as COVID tests started to come back. By early afternoon the Broncos announced they couldn’t play in the Arizona Bowl, freeing up Central Michigan.

The Sun Bowl, working with the Pac-12, was able to secure Central Michigan, which will now relocate its operation 315 miles east to El Paso. This represents a major victory for the Sun Bowl, which had its 2020 game cancelled when El Paso was a national COVID hot spot.

There were setbacks before CMU was selected.

SMU, Memphis and East Carolina, which had bowl games cancelled because of COVID outbreaks among their scheduled opponents, made the decision to end their seasons.

UTEP indicated too many of its players have already gone home for the Christmas break, a problem common for programs that didn't have late December bowl schedules, to enable it to apply for a waiver to play a second bowl game.

But in the end the Sun Bowl, facing the tightest of deadlines, secured Central Michigan and saved its 2021 game.

Bret Bloomquist can be reached at bbloomquist@elpasotimes.com; follow @Bretbloomquist on Twitter.