ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Under mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the 40s, Washington State had its first practice here Wednesday in the city that hosts Saturday’s New Mexico Bowl.
The Cougars are working out at Milne Stadium, a facility built in 1939 owned by the Albuquerque School District. It has FieldTurf, and WSU coach Mike Leach gave it high marks.
“I’ve been to a lot of bowls, and this is one of the better facilities,” Leach said. “The locker room is really good, too, and the commute’s short.”
Colorado State is practicing on fields nearby, used by the New Mexico football team.
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Mac looks back
Colorado State coach Jim McElwain grew up in Missoula, Mont., and played quarterback at Eastern Washington (1980-83), then got his first job coaching at Eastern and was there from 1985-94.
Asked about playing WSU, McElwain recalled getting Cougars highlight shows in Montana on KHQ-TV in Spokane, saying, “You grew up watching Jim Sweeney, rooting for Jim Walden.”
CSU will be playing in the same stadium where it throttled New Mexico, 66-42, on Nov. 16. It’s also staying in the same hotel. “It’s going to help a lot,” said linebacker Shaquil Barrett. “It’s a sense of home.”
Cougfan.com reported that WSU defensive end Toni Pole, who started the first 10 games of the season, did not make the trip and was sent home by Leach for academic ineligibility. He would presumably be replaced by sophomore Kache Palacio, who started the last two games.
• CSU RB Kapri Bibbs scored six TDs in that New Mexico game, part of a wild, 603-yard, two-week binge against the Lobos and Nevada. But in the Rams’ six losses, he was held to 59.5 yards a game.
• Leach on S Deone Bucannon being named a first-team AP All-American: “We’re excited about it. Again, we view it as a team award. Deone is kind of the pinnacle of the efforts of a lot of people.”