UPDATE #3, Dec. 27: The Sun Bowl Association confirmed to ABC-7 on Monday evening that Washington State (7-5) will now be playing Central Michigan (8-4) in the Sun Bowl.
The announcement comes after an agreement was reached to release CMU from the Arizona Bowl after Boise State dropped out due to Covid cases among its team.
The Chippewas will make the roughly four-hour trip to El Paso from Tucson to replace the University of Miami, who withdrew Sunday from the Sun Bowl due to a Covid outbreak.
Below is the announcement made by Sun Bowl Association executive director Bernie Olivas to the Washington State Cougars players at the Radisson Hotel about their new opponent.
UPDATE #2, Dec. 27: Boise State has withdrawn from the Arizona Bowl due to Covid issues. The Mid American Conference must now release Central Michigan from its bowl obligation if it is to play Washington State in the Sun Bowl, according to Sports Illustrated.
If the Arizona Bowl cannot find a replacement for Boise in the next 24 hours and the MAC lifts Central Michigan's obligation, CMU is expected to be bound for the Sun Bowl to play Washington State.
UPDATE, Dec. 27: With four days notice, here's a look at some of the options the Sun Bowl Association is looking at:
- The most logical choice would be for SMU, East Carolina or Memphis to take Miami's slot because their bowl games have all been canceled due to opponents dropping out from Covid-19. But reports indicate that all three teams have decided their season is over and none want to play in the Sun Bowl.
- There's the possibility of a number of 5-7 record teams as a replacement. Last week, the NCAA said it would allow 5-7 record teams to fill-in at bowl games. The issue here is that many of these 5-7 teams have already sent their players home, so logistically it's very difficult to get a team back together, travel to El Paso and prepare for Washington State. Last week when Texas A&M had to pull out of the Gator Bowl, 5-7 Illinois put their hand up to fill in. But it's been reported that the Illini don’t want to do the same for the Sun Bowl.
- Stephen F. Austin put their name out there Sunday night to fill in. The question mark over SFA is that it is an FCS team instead of an FBS team, so it's unclear if that is a realistic option.
- The final possibility right now is looking like it is the most likely: Central Michigan. The Chippewas are set to play Boise State at the Arizona Bowl on New Year's Eve. According to sources on the ground in Arizona, Boise State is awaiting Covid test results - which will determine if they can play. Sources also say the Sun Bowl has reached out to Central Michigan to play here in El Paso.
ORIGINAL REPORT, Dec. 26: EL PASO, Texas — The University of Miami Hurricanes are withdrawing from the Sun Bowl game on New Year’s Eve due to Covid-19 issues, bowl officials confirmed Sunday evening to ABC-7.
“Due to the number of Covid-19 cases impacting our roster we do not have enough student-athletes to safely compete," Miami athletic officials said in a statement.
Sun Bowl officials said they were working to find a replacement team to play the Washington State Cougars, who arrived in El Paso earlier Sunday.
A bowl spokesperson emphasized to ABC-7 that the game isn’t cancelled at this point and said they still hope to play it on Friday.