Previewing Washington State vs. Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl: Date, Time, Spread, How to Watch

    Who: No. 13 Washington State (10-2) vs. No. 24 Iowa State (8-4) What: Alamo Bowl When: 9 p.m. ET, Friday, December 28 Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

    December 27, 2018

    Who: No. 13 Washington State (10-2) vs. No. 24 Iowa State (8-4)

    What: Alamo Bowl

    When: 9 p.m. ET, Friday, December 28

    Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

    Spread: Washington State -2.5

    How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN

    Washington State is one win away from arguably the best season in program history. The Cougars started the season 10-1, peaked at No. 7 in the AP Top 25 and No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings, and now eye their first 11-win season in program history.

    In an alternate universe, maybe Washington State goes 12-1 this season and wins the Pac-12 Championship to be in the playoff conversation in early December while quarterback Gardner Minshew II finishes as a Heisman Trophy finalist. But even though the Cougars and their most well-known player fell short of their collective and individual goals, there’s still a lot on the line in the Alamo Bowl. The same goes for Iowa State on the opposite sideline.

    Washington State Coach Mike Leach has taken the Cougars from a 3-9 record in 2012 in his first season in Pullman to top-10 team that was in the mix for a Pac-12 Championship and in the early stages of the playoff discussion. That’s a major improvement for a program that went six decades – the 1930s to the ’80s – without a 10-win season and with just three years with more than seven wins.

    While Iowa State didn’t reach the same heights as Washington State in the AP Top 25 or College Football Playoff rankings, the Cyclones come from a similar background historically. Both schools have played in just 13 bowl games each. Iowa State’s back-to-back seasons with at least eight wins under coach Matt Campbell is the first time the school has won at least eight games in consecutive seasons since 1977 and ’78.

    The Cyclones have had just nine seasons in program history with at least eight wins (they’ve had seven seasons with one or zero wins, for comparison) and two of them have come in the first three years of Campbell’s tenure in Ames.

    A victory in the Alamo Bowl would mark consecutive bowl wins for the first time for Iowa State and just its third nine-win season, as well as the school’s sixth win over a ranked opponent in the last two seasons. Even more impressively, three of those potential six wins would have come on the road and one would be on a neutral field.

    Here’s a look at Iowa State’s wins over ranked opponents since the start of the 2017 season:

    • 38-31 at No. 3 Oklahoma (2017)
    • 14-7 vs. No. 4 TCU (2017)
    • 21-20 at No. 19 Memphis in the Liberty Bowl (2017)
    • 48-42 at No. 25 Oklahoma State (2018)
    • 30-14 vs. No. 6 West Virginia (2018)

    Not bad for a program that finished last season ranked No. 46 nationally in Football Outsiders’ S&P+ rankings and enters this bowl season ranked No. 52. Despite playing in a conference known for its high-powered offenses and lack of defense, the Cyclones are a strong group defensively.

    They rank 31st in the country on that side of the ball, according to Football Outsiders, and most notably, they held West Virginia to 14 points – roughly 28 points below their season average – in a win.

    Washington State will really put Iowa State’s defense to the test. The Cougars average a national-best 380 passing yards per game. They move the chains nearly 44 percent of the time on third down, roughly 70 percent of the time on fourth down, and they score a touchdown more than 76 percent of the time they reach the red zone.

    Washington State’s offense is high-scoring, explosive and it typically wins the time of possession battle.

    Minshew, the fifth-place finisher in this season’s Heisman Trophy voting, has completed more than 70 percent of his passes for 4,477 yards and 36 touchdowns compared to just nine interceptions.

    The team’s leading rusher, running back James Williams, has only tallied 552 yards this season, but nine Washington State players have at least 25 receptions and 280 receiving yards, led by wide receiver Dezmon Patmon’s 55 catches for 740 yards.

    Washington (No. 3 defense, per Football Outsiders’ S&P+ rankings) and Cal (No. 12 defense) held Washington State to 15 and 19 points, respectively, but the Cougars scored at least 28 points against every other team they faced.

    Neither team’s strong suit is running the ball. Washington State is second-to-last nationally in rushing yards per game with 81 and Iowa State is 114th at 124 yards per game. However, the Cyclones do have a workhorse back in David Montgomery, who enters the bowl game with 231 carries for 1,092 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    Iowa State freshman quarterback Brock Purdy, who didn’t attempt a pass until the team’s win at Oklahoma State on October 6, has thrown for 1,935 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions in the Cyclones’ last eight games since taking over from Zeb Noland and Kyle Kempt.

    Wide receiver Hakeem Butler is a big-play threat with 51 catches for 1,126 yards (22.1 yards per reception) and nine touchdowns.

    Iowa State arrived in San Antonio having won seven of its last eight games, while Washington State is coming off of a 28-15 loss to Washington that kept the Cougars out of the Pac-12 Championship.

     

    Here’s a look at some of the statistical strengths and players to watch for both teams.

    Washington State

    Offense

    Points per game: 38.3 (15th)

    Passing yards per game: 380 (1st)

    Third down conversion percentage: 43.8% (30th)

    Fourth down conversion percentage: 69.2% (8th)

    Touchdown percentage in the red zone: 76.6% (5th)

    Plays from scrimmage of at least 10 yards: 205 (23rd)

    Average time of possession: 32:22 (22nd)

    Defense

    Points allowed per game: 23.1 (39th)

    Rushing yards allowed per game: 136 (35th)

    Turnover margin: +6 (27th)

    Opponent third down conversion percentage: 36.4% (41st)

    Limiting opponent plays from scrimmage of at least 10 yards: 142 (21st)

    Players to watch

    QB Gardner Minshew II – 4,477 passing yards, 70.6%, 36 TD, 9 INT

    WR Dezmon Patmon – 55 receptions, 740 receiving yards, 4 TD

    WR Davontavean Martin – 65 receptions, 650 receiving yards, 8 TD

    WR Easop Winston – 48 receptions, 611 receiving yards, 8 TD

    LB Peyton Pelluer – 86 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, three passes defended,

    LB Jahad Woods – 72 total tackles, 3.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, one INT

    Iowa State

    Offense

    Red zone conversion percentage: 90.2% (16th)

    Defense

    Points allowed per game: 22.5 (35th)

    Rushing yards allowed per game: 122 (21st)

    Opponent red zone conversion percentage: 73.8% (9th)

    Players to watch

    QB Brock Purdy – 1,935 passing yards, 66.3%, 16 TD, 5 INT

    RB David Montgomery – 1,092 rushing yards, 4.7 avg., 12 TD

    WR Hakeem Butler – 51 receptions, 1,126 receiving yards, 22.1 avg., 9 TD

    DB Greg Eisworth – 84 total tackles, three passes defended, two forced fumbles, one INT

    DE JaQuan Bailey – 41 total tackles, 7.0 sacks, four passes defended

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