The Alamo Bowl features two teams in possibly different mindsets as Iowa State is looking to reach nine wins for just the third time in team history, while Washington State is coming off another brutal loss in the Apple Cup that also meant a much lesser bowl. The Cougars were -3 point favorites with an over/under of 54 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) a week before the Game in San Antonio.
Iowa State (6-6 ATS) won seven of its last eight Games, but there were plenty of weird results. The Cyclones got a big win over West Virginia, but that came a couple weeks after losing to TCU. And while they escaped most mediocre competition in the Big 12, they barely got past Drake in the finale. It was a little different for Washington State (10-2 ATS) partly because it played in an easier conference. The Cougars handled all competition, but let one get away from them at USC and then faltered against Washington in a Game dominated by snow.
If Mike Leach and company put everything into this Game, it could be an easy win, but that’s not guaranteed for a team that was hoping for a New Year’s Six bowl Game. On the surface, Washington State’s Air Raid is the outlier in this matchup. Behind quarterback Gardner Minshew, this offense has rarely been stopped as he has 4,477 yards, 36 touchdowns and only nine interceptions on 70.6% completion. Per usual, they have a slew of receivers with solid numbers led by Dezmon Patmon (740 yards) and Davontavean Martin (650 yards), but running back James Williams also had a stout season with 552 rushing yards and 560 receiving yards on 76 receptions.
Iowa State excelled in rush defense, but was mediocre against the pass-heavy Big 12, allowing 7.0 yards per pass attempt and only had eight interceptions. The difference is that Wazzu probably has a better defense than most teams in the Big 12, allowing 23.1 points per Game with solid numbers against the rush and pass. It wasn’t an elite defense, but it stood its ground against a lot of solid Pac-12 offenses, namely those of Oregon (20 points) and Utah (24 points).
The Cyclones turned their season around after freshman Brock Purdy took over as he completed 10.03 yards per attempt in eight starts with 16 touchdowns and only five picks. His yardage totals aren’t amazing, but he was extremely efficient. Still, it’s important to note he only played one above average defense and that ended up being the loss at Texas. The Cyclones got consistent production out of running back David Montgomery (1,092 yards, 12 TDs), but a weaker offensive line led to 3.5 yards per carry as a team.
ISU has failed to cover its last Four Games because its offense hasn’t had enough to pOur points on against weaker teams and that could be an issue in this one, whereas Wazzu was seemingly underrated every Game. The Cyclones are 15-6-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, but 1-5 ATS in their last six neutral-site Games. The Cougars are 10-2 ATS this season, but haven’t covered in their last five against the Big 12.
Our Pick – To be clear, the numbers suggest Washington State is the correct side in this one as we have them winning by a TD or more. However, the numbers don’t always win. Iowa State +3