The Washington Huskies (8-5, 4-5) accepted Sunday an invitation to play in the Cactus Bowl Jan. 2, the first under coach Chris Petersen and fifth in a row, against Oklahoma State (6-6, 4-5) of the Big 12 Conference.
“We’re really excited to go down (to Tempe, AZ.),” Petersen said. “I think Oklahoma State has a terrific program . . . It will be a really nice match-up and a competitive game.”
The bowl has a 26-year history that included sponsors such as Insight.com, Buffalo Wild Wings and Copper (in Tucson) and this time has a Ticket City sponsor. The 7:15 p.m. game will air on ESPN from Sun Devil Stadium on the Arizona State campus.
It marks the first meeting between Oklahoma State and Washington since 1985, when the Cowboys beat the Huskies 31-17 at Husky Stadium. The first meeting between the schools was in 1980, the Huskies prevailing 24-18.
The Cowboys qualified for postseason with an overtime win over Oklahoma in their final contest Saturday. They had lost five conference games in a row before beating the Sooners.
Washington seeks nine wins for the second consecutive season. In 2013, the Huskies were 9-4 with a 31-16 victory over BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl coached by interim head coach Marques Tuiasosopo. The Huskies have a two-game winning streak after beating rival Washington State in the Apple Cup and Oregon State. Washington finished third in the Pac-12 North division behind Oregon and Stanford.
For seniors like defensive end Andrew Hudson, the Cactus Bowl will be the last time to put on a Huskies uniform. While Hudson wants to leave on a winning note, he spoke about the importance of setting a standard for how Huskies conduct themselves for future classes.
“A win in a bowl game doesn’t come easily because there are so many distractions. You see it every year . . . (players) get sent home for messing up,” Hudson said. “To finish strong is great for the program, for us seniors and for those leaving the program.”
Washington gains 15 extra practices to prepare for a 14th game. Those practices will begin late next week after players complete fall quarter. The practice time is a great benefit to a squad set to lose 16 seniors.
“I think (the practices) are important,” Petersen said. “We have to balance this to keep these kids healthy, their energy right (and) their minds right.
“If our practices are a little shorter, that’s fine. But let’s go when we’re out there.”