The third and final game for Friday. Dec. 28 is the Valero Alamo Bowl, which features the #13 Washington State Cougars (10-2, 1st Pac-12 – North) vs the #24 Iowa State Cyclones (8-4, 3rd Big 12). The games, which is scheduled to start at 9 pm ET, will be played at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. Our 2018 Alamo Bowl pick presently offers the Washington State Cougars at -2.5 or -3.0. The point spread ranges from as low as 56.0 to as high as 57.0. First, let’s consider how each team did this season.
ISU did not get off to a good start. After their first game against South Dakota State was cancelled, they went 1-3 over their first four. Losses were to Iowa, #8 Oklahoma, and TCU. But then the cyclones ran off five straight wins that included back-to-back victories against #25 Oklahoma State and #8 West Virginia. Their winning streak came to an end when #15 Texas beat them 24-10. The Cyclones then finished the season with two more wins.
After starting the season with three fairly easy nonconference wins, the Cougars lost their Pac-12 opener to USC 39-36. Washington State then reeled off seven wins in a row, which included back-to-back victories over #12 Oregon and #24 Stanford. Their other loss was a crucial one, as the #16 Washington Huskies took them down 28-15 in the final regular-season game. That loss meant that the Huskies and not the Cougars got to go onto the Pac-12 title game.
#24 Iowa State – Analysis
Iowa State averaged 26.8 PPG. Of their 359.0 YPG in offense, 234.8 YPG were through the air. Yards rushing averaged 124.3. Look for freshman QB Brock Purdy (66.3 COMP%, 16 TDs, 5 INTs), who passed for 1,935 yards this season, to get the start. Junior WR Hakeem Butler (51 REC, 22.1 YPC, 9 TDs) is his go-to guy. Butler had 1,226 receiving yards. Junior RB David Montgomery (231 ATT, 4.7 YPA. 12 TDs) rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season.
The Iowa State defense held opponents to 22.5 PPG. Teams rushed for 122.3 YPG and threw for 228.8 YPG against the Cyclones. Our 2018 Alamo Bowl pick finds that DE JaQuan Bailey (40 TKLs, 12.5 TFL, 7 SCKs) and LB Willie Harvey (72 TKLs, 8.5 TFL, 3 SCKs) make for a solid defensive force. DBs Braxton Lewis (70 TKLs, 3 INTs, 4 TFL) and Brian Peavy (51 TKLs, 1 INT, 8 PD) are topnotch in the secondary. The Cyclones defended 42 passes, grabbed eight picks, and forced 10 fumbles. Sacks came in at 30 and TFL registered at 83.
#13 Washington State – Analysis
Our 2018 Alamo Bowl pick notes that the Washington State offense can certainly put points on the board. They do it by tossing for 380.0 YPG, while rushing for just 81.8 YPG. The Cougars are averaging 38.3 PPG. Senior QB Gardner Minshew (70.6 COMP%, 36 TDs, 9 INTs), who threw for over 4,400 yards this season, is accurate and unrelenting. Four receivers have a minimum of 48 catches, with junior RB James Williams grabbing 76 passes. The four receivers have a total of 24 catches. Along with being the top pass catcher, Williams is also the top rusher 119 carries and 552 yards. He’s rushed for a dozen scores.
The Cougar defense has held teams to 23.1 PPG. Opponents are averaging 136.6 YPG rushing and just 208.8 YPG passing. The Washington State secondary was not the strongest as they grabbed just 10 picks and defended 34 passes. The D forced 16 fumbles and recovered 10. Sacks and TFL, which came in at 35 sacks and 79 respectively, were solid.
Five Keys to the Game
- Can ISU contain QB Minshew?
- Can ISU contain the versatile Williams?
- RB Montgomery and QB Purdy need big games for the Cyclones
- Slowing down the Cougar offense is essential for ISU
- Washington State secondary can be exploited.
Our 2018 Alamo Bowl Pick
Our 2018 Alamo Bowl pick finds that points will be scored in this game. We like the over at 56.0. We’re also taking the Cougars at -2.5. We do think that their high-flying offense will be tough to stop. ISU will probably keep up for a while, but eventually WSU will pull away. To get the story on Friday’s other two bowls, click on the appropriate links that follow – Camping World Bowl and Music City Bowl. Our complete bowl schedule is available here.