EL PASO, Texas - Fortunately for Central Michigan, and for pretty much everyone involved with the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, it is much better late than never.
Traveling via bus, Central Michigan pulled into the El Paso Airport Marriott hotel Thursday afternoon, less than 24 hours before they will kick off against Washington State in Friday's Sun Bowl game.
The Chippewas arrived from Tucson, where they had initially been scheduled to play the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl before their opponent Boise State had to withdraw due to issues with Covid-19.
When Central Michigan was left without an opponent, representatives from the Sun Bowl moved quickly to secure the Chippewas as their own replacement for the Miami Hurricanes withdrew from the Sun Bowl due to Covid issues.
The Chippewas (8-4) of the Mid-American Conference enter the Sun Bowl having won four straight conference games and average over 30 points per game behind quarterback Daniel Richardson and redshirt freshman running back Lew Nichols. Nichols was the nation's leading rusher in the regular season and was named MAC Offensive Player of the Year.
Central Michigan is coached by Jim McElwain, who most recently spent three season as head coach at the University of Florida where he was SEC Coach of the Year in 2015.
Washington State, Central Michigan's Sun Bowl opponent, arrived in El Paso on Sunday and has been practicing all week at El Paso's Eastwood High School.
The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl will kick off at 10 a.m. MT Friday and will be broadcast nationally on CBS.