Iowa State and Washington State meet in the 2018 edition of the Alamo Bowl. This is one of the bigger bowl games outside of the New Year’s Six and playoff games. It still amounts to a glorified exhibition game, but players don’t have to feel embarrassed showing off their Alamo Bowl rings.
Compared to guys who get to say that they are champions of the Dollar General Bowl or the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. At least most people have heard about the Alamo Bowl. Beyond that, it’s always a good time when Mike Leach is involved in an event. It’s a guarantee that his interviews for this game are going to be entertaining.
The two schools participating in this game also provides an interesting matchup. Iowa State has made their living upsetting and pulling off near upsets over Oklahoma the last two years. The Cyclones defeated Oklahoma last season and then they gave the Sooners another fight this year.
They came up short with a 37-27 loss, but not many teams can say they played Kyler Murray that closely in 2018. Iowa State finally want to get over the team who is just known for upsets and develop into a legit threat in the Big 12. They weren’t that far off from having much better than an 8-4 season.
A 13-3 loss to Iowa in Week 1 and 37-17 loss to Oklahoma the following week is the only time they lost two consecutive games. They should have played better against the Hawkeyes, though they likely had their eyes set on the Sooners already. After losing to TCU, 17-14, at the end of September, the Cyclones went 7-1 the rest of the season. The highlight of the year was a 30-14 win over West Virginia. They held one of the best passers in the country, Will Grier, to just 100 yards with a touchdown and interception.
The Cyclones closed out the year with a make up game against Drake, but clearly weren’t interested in playing. They won but barely by a score of 27-24. That was Drake’s National Championship, but almost losing as 41-point favorites was nearly a disaster for Iowa State. Meanwhile, Washington State lost in the Apple Cup, 28-15. They were outgained by 250 yards in a game that never felt close. We’ll see if they can get excited about playing Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl. Get our free Iowa State vs. Washington State pick in the Alamo Bowl below.
Iowa State Cyclones vs. Washington State Cougars Alamo Bowl Betting Odds:
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Iowa State vs. Washington State Pick:
Mike Leach had his team playing in the top-5 heading into the final week of the regular season against Washington. A trip to the Pac-12 Championship was up for grabs, but that was as far as they got. Washington State were a spot behind Michigan, so if the Cougars beat Washington and then won the Pac-12, I don’t think Oklahoma would have leapfrogged them. That would have been up for massive debate, but my vote would have gone to Washington State. It’s all irrelevant now, as the Cougars go from a spot away from the College Football Playoff to the Alamo Bowl.
Gardner Minshew and Washington State have to be aware that Iowa State has done a fantastic job at disrupting great offenses. They’ve played down to their opponents, like against Kansas State, a game they had to score 42 points to win. However, holding Oklahoma to 37 points and West Virginia is an impressive feat.
With a few weeks to get over their stinker against Drake, expect Iowa State to come out looking to prove something in the Alamo Bowl. They are matched up with a Washington State team that would give them a good win, if they do in fact win. Does Washington State really care about beating Iowa State? For a team who just lost to their rivals in the biggest game of the year, I’m not sure if the Cyclones are going to interest the Cougars.
Washington State does have an edge at the quarterback position in this game. Minshew led the Cougars to 1st in the FBS in passing yards per game with 380 yards per game. He threw for 36 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, with an impressive 70.6% completion percentage. Leach rarely wants to run the ball, but he’s warmed up to the idea the last couple of years.
Despite facing elite passing games in the Big 12, Iowa State held firm with 228.8 passing yards allowed per game. In a conference that can see 400 yards from quarterbacks on a regular basis, it’s not all that bad. Note that the Cyclones have allowed plays of more than 40 yards only eight times in 2018. They’re also 2nd in red zone defense in the conference.
Iowa State quarterback, Brock Purdy, has played well with 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. The freshman has compiled a season that he hopes carries over into 2019. A solid performance against Washington State could help give him even more confidence heading into the offseason. He limits the mistakes and allows future NFLer, David Montgomery, to run wild. In just the last two games, Montgomery has rushed for 294 yards and 5 touchdowns. He enters with 1,092 yards and 12 touchdowns overall. Another solid performance and he could eclipse 1,200 yards for the season.
The Iowa State defense is well equipped to counter air-raid, fast paced offenses. Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech all like to go fast. They won all of them other than against the Sooners, though they did hang around in that one. Iowa State is likely to be the more motivated team here, too. Win or lose, Washington State has nothing to gain or lose. However, Iowa State will get more respect if they beat Minshew and Washington State. Leach is 3-8 ATS in bowl games, so I don’t think he puts much stock into these games. He’s more concerned with advertising how the playoff should be expanded. I would consider the points with Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl.