Iowa State vs Washington State
When: 9:00 PM ET, Friday, December 28, 2018
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
VALERO ALAMO BOWL STORYLINES
SAN ANTONIO – The Iowa State and Washington State football programs have each been around for approximately 125 years, but they’ll meet for the first time on Dec. 28 in San Antonio at the Valero Alamo Bowl. Iowa State rallied behind freshman quarterback Brock Purdy to tie for third in the Big 12 with West Virginia and earn this bid based on their 30-14 win on Oct. 13 against the Mountaineers, who were ranked No. 6 in the coaches’ poll at the time. Purdy made his first career start in that game and threw three touchdown passes, and has remained a steady force for the Cyclones, leading them to a 6-1 mark as a starter.
Washington State tied for first in the North Division of the Pac-12 but missed out on the conference championship game when it lost to Washington 28-15 in the regular-season finale on Nov. 23. The Cougars are led by quarterback Gardner Minshew, a senior transfer from East Carolina who passed for 4,477 yards and 36 touchdowns this season, while opposing defenses were credited with just nine interceptions and 11 sacks against the agile signal caller. Washington State coach Mike Leach has faced Iowa State four times in his career, owning a 3-1 mark while coaching Texas Teach from 2000-2009.
While much of the focus is expected to be on the quarterbacks, Iowa State sported the top-ranked defense in the Big 12 during the regular season, allowing an average of 22.5 points a game. The leader on that side of the ball is sophomore safety Greg Eisworth, a community college transfer who was named the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year by conference coaches after leading the Cyclones at 7.6 tackles a game. Iowa State will likely gear its defense toward the pass, as Washington State ranked second-to-last in rushing among 129 FBS teams during the regular season.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Washington State -3.5.
ABOUT IOWA STATE (8-4, 6-3 Big 12): The Cyclones ranked last in the Big 12 in rushing offense at 124.3 yards a game, but they had the third-most productive running back in the conference in junior David Montgomery, who averaged 99.3 yards a game and was Iowa State’s lone first-team all-conference selection by the Associated Press. Montgomery missed a 48-42 victory against Oklahoma State on Oct. 6 with an upper arm injury – a win that seemed to turn around the season for Iowa State. It was feared at the time that Montgomery would be out longer, but he came back with a season-high 189 yards the following week against West Virginia and enters the Alamo Bowl with back-to-back 100-yard efforts.
ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12): The snowy conditions played a big role in Washington State’s loss to Washington last month, as Minshew didn’t throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season and was held to 152 passing yards after passing for at least 319 in every other game. Minshew, a Mississippi native, won’t need to deal with adverse weather inside the Alamodome, and should feel even more comfortable playing as close to home as he has all season. Minshew hasn’t looked for wide receivers Dezmon Patmon and Easop Winston much the last two games, but that should change on the speedy turf.