2018 Valero Alamo Bowl Preview
The second place teams in both the Big 12 and Pac-12 meet in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. This year’s contest features the Iowa State Cyclones and the Washington State Cougars. The game kicks off at 9:00 pm on Friday, December 28th on ESPN. The Alamo Bowl is traditionally one of the best games on the schedule each season. Let’s see if that continues with our 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl Preview. However, first a little info on the sponsor.
Who Is Valero And What Do They Do?
Valero was formed in San Antonio, Texas on January 1st, 1980. They are the largest independent petroleum refiner and ethanol producer. The name comes from the original name of the Alamo, Mision San Antonio de Valero. They have sponsored the Alamo Bowl since 2007 and are the fourth in 26 years. In addition to Valero Builders Square sponsored from 1993-1998, Sylvania from 1999-2001, and Master Card from 2002-2005. Now that we’ve told you about the sponsor let’s preview the teams starting with Washington State.
Scouting the Cougars
Mike Leach’s club comes into Friday night’s game sporting a 10-2 record beating five teams with winning records. Their two losses came to USC and Washington, a game that not only kept them out of the Rose Bowl but the New Year’s Six altogether. However, the season hasn’t been without tragedy. Back in January starting quarterback Tyler Hilinski committed suicide. He was diagnosed with Stage 1 CTE.
Enter Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer from East Carolina. Over the course of the season, Minshew became a cult hero. Throwing for 4,477 yards and 36 touchdowns, Minshew finished sixth in the Heisman balloting. Under Leach’s “Air Raid” offense the Cougars ranked first in the country with 380 yards passing a game.
Minshew’s favorite target is Dezmon Patmon, who leads the receivers with 740 yards. Two others in Davontavean Martin and Easop Winston led with eight touchdown receptions each. Furthermore, Washington State’s top four receivers had over 500 yards.
While you wouldn’t normally expect good defense from a Leach-led team, the unit has been solid in 2018. They allowed 23 points per contest which ranks 38th in FBS. Linebacker Peyton Pelluer leads the defense with 86 tackles and three and a half sacks. As we continue the 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl preview, it’s time to look at Iowa State.
Scouting The Cyclones
Under coach Matt Campbell, the Cyclones began the season 1-3. However, they won seven of the last eight to finish 8-4. They beat three bowl-eligible Big 12 teams in Baylor, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia.
During the course of the season, Iowa State went through three different starting quarterbacks before Brock Purdy earned the job. He threw for 1,935 yards with 16 touchdowns and only five interceptions as a freshman. In addition, he is the second leading rusher on the Cyclones with 262 yards and three more scores.
His favorite target is junior Hakeem Butler. For the season, Butler has 51 catches for 1,126 yards and nine touchdowns. The ground game is spearheaded by David Montgomery who has 1,092 yards and 12 touchdowns. Another point to note, Iowa State is one of the best in the red zone converting 37 of 41 attempts during the season.
On the other side of the ball, the defense gives up an average of 22.6 points a game good for 35th in football. In that respect, both teams are about even. Linebacker Willie Harvey leads the charge with 72 tackles with eight and a half for a loss.
Series And Bowl History
Iowa State is 4-9 all-time in bowl games. However, they won their most recent game last season beating Memphis in the Liberty Bowl 21-20. That is Campbell’s only bowl game. The Cyclones have never played in the Alamo Bowl before.
Washington State is 7-7 in bowl games in their history. However, they have lost three of their last four, all under Leach. The only win came in the 2015 Sun Bowl beating Miami 20-14. The Cougars played in San Antonio once before, defeating Baylor 10-3 in 1994. As a coach, this is Leach’s 14th bowl compiling a 6-7 record. This is the first time Iowa State and Washington State have ever met on the gridiron.
Valero Alamo Bowl Predictions
It’s prediction time in our 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl Preview. The contrast in styles between the two clubs makes this a very interesting matchup. In a season of blowouts, this one could go down to the wire. Most of the attention going into the game is on the high powered offense of Washington State. However, you have to remember Iowa State has already faced Oklahoma and West Virginia this and even defeated the Mountaineers. They have a good idea of what to expect. Look for a back and forth contest which goes down to the wire. In the end, the Cougars emerge victoriously. Washington State 35 Iowa State 31.
Thanks for checking out the 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl preview here at Last Word on College Football. As a reminder, we have previews of every bowl game leading up to the National Championship.