The 8-4 Washington State Cougars take on the 8-4 Minnesota Gophers in this year’s matchup of the Holiday Bowl. Washington State brings one of the nation’s most prolific passers in Luke Falk, who is guaranteed to sling the ball around as often as possible. While Minnesota is looking to end coach Claeys’ first season as head coach with a victory. The most interesting prospects for the NFL draft will be Falk, and wide receiver Gabe Marks of the Cougars.
Washington State (8-4)
#9 Gabe Marks, WR
(6’0″ – 190 – SR)
Marks became the Big Ten’s all time leader in catches this season and looks to continue padding his lead. Marks caught 85 passes this year for 867 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has become the number one option for Falk after the injury to wide receiver River Cracraft. While he cannot out-muscle defenders, Marks is very quick and runs clean routes. Look out for him on first down, as nearly half of his catches (36) have come on that down per ESPN.
#21 WR River Cracraft, WR
(6’0″ – 200 – SR)
Before his season ending injury, Cracraft was on a tear through the Pac-12 as quarterback Luke Falk’s main option. His route running is also incredible, and he displays good hands. However, like his teammate, he is a little undersized for receiver in the NFL. Yet wide receivers can get by if they are exceptional route runners. The numbers in this case are a little misleading. He had a slow start to the season, but came on strong before his injury.
#4 Luke Falk, QB
(6’4″ – 216 – JR)
Falk is a junior that helped lead the Cougars to within a game of the Pac-12 North championship. The junior completed 71 percent of his passes on his way to another 4,000 yard season and 37 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. His film shows someone who has poise in the pocket, and is able to progress beyond his first look. Beyond that, he has a very quick release that will entice NFL teams.
#82 Drew Wolitasky, WR
(6’3″ – 220 – SR)
Wolitarsky was the lone bright spot in the Gophers’ passing game this season. He caught nearly 40 percent of quarterback Mitch Leidner’s yards. His season totals are 787 yards and five touchdowns. Look for him on third downs, as Minnesota like to throw his way and let him do work.
#13 Jonathan Celestin, LB
(6’2″ – 220 – JR)
Celestin totalled 64 tackles this season, to go along with seven tackles for loss, three sacks, and four pass breakups. S&P+ ranked Minnesota as the 23rd best defense this year, and Celestin was a big reason why. He is exceptional stopping the run and creating havoc in the backfield as evidenced by the S&P rate of 16th overall.
#7 Damarius Travis, Safety
(6’2″ – 210 – SR)
Travis helped lead the Golden Gophers’ back seven with 64 tackles and five tackles for losss. He also contributed two interceptions for the Gophers as an all-around safety. Travis is used like a hybrid safety or nickel corner in the Gophers defense and is good in both roles. More than likely, you will see Travis do a little bit of everything for the defense.