Now we know for sure.
The Washington Huskies will play the Oklahoma State Cowboys on January 2nd at the Cactus Bowl in Tempe, AZ. The team found out about their invitation as they met as a team during the CFP Selection show earlier today. Chris Petersen and some players were made available to the press immediately following the announcement. You can see some video interviews here and here.
The Cactus Bowl, which is the latest incarnation of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (previously the Insight.com Bowl, previously the Copper Bowl), is the lowest level contracted Pac 12 bowl game. It matches the #5 team from the Big 12 with the #7 team in the Pac 12. The Huskies are actually the #8 team in the Pac this year, but earned the Cactus Bowl invite thanks to the Pac 12 South Champion, Arizona, getting invited to the play in the Fiesta Bowl.
Oklahoma State was the #7 ranked team in their conference and, like the Huskies, finished with a 4-5 conference record (6-6 overall). They earned bowl eligibility in their stunning OT upset win over the Oklahoma Sooners yesterday. It had been expected that the Cactus Bowl was going to be one of two bowls - the other being the Armed Forces bowl - that would have an at-large opening due to the lack of eligible teams in their contracted lineups. However, OSU's victory allowed the Cactus Bowl organizers to keep the contractual commitment and created the most attractive matchup that they could have hoped for.
The Cowboys are a good test for the Huskies and will satisfy fan cravings for a "quality bowl matchup". Since 2010, Oklahoma State and head coach Mike Gundy have averaged over 10 wins per season before the rebuild campaign this year. That stretch includes a remarkable Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford in the 2011 season.
It has been an interesting season for the Cowboys who were widely expected to struggle in 2014. Known as an offensive friendly system, the Cowboys have struggled to put up points all year. They average 27 points a contest and their offensive efficiency ranking of 1.37 ranks them 71st in the country (by way of comparison, UW is 2.54 in that category - 64th in the nation). The biggest issue facing the Cowboys, not surprisingly, is QB stability. They've started three different guys over the course of the season. The presumed starter, Mason Rudolph, is a 6'4" 217lb true freshman who had his redshirt taken off for the last two games of the OSU season. It has been a trial by fire for Randolph whose two starts were both on the road - @Baylor and @Oklahoma.
There will be much more on the Huskies, the Cowboys and the Cactus Bowl in the weeks ahead. For now, use this as your open thread to discuss the matchup.