Defense Leads Cougars Past Cyclones in 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl
A Brock Purdy pass was completed on a two-point conversion try that would’ve tied the Valero Alamo Bowl with 4:02 left in the game. But David Montgomery, who caught the pass was wrapped up and tackled at the goal line before breaking the plane. The Cyclones (8-5) wouldn’t get the ball back as Washington State (11-2) reigned victorious in San Antonio on December 28 in the Alamodome.
Offensive MVP and star Cougar quarterback Gardner Minshew II completed a Valero Alamo Bowl record 35 completions for 299 yards and two touchdowns. But Minshew’s best play of the game came midway through the second quarter when he escaped a defender before lunging into the end zone to score on a 7-yd rush. The TD gave the Cougars an early 14-0 lead, and despite a 16-point second half from the Cyclones, Iowa State was never able to fully recover.
The win marks the Cougars’ second Valero Alamo Bowl victory, with the other being a 1994, 10-3, win over Baylor. But as Minshew II noted afterward, the most important thing tonight was leaving Washington State set up for the future.
“One thing I’ve always been told is to leave a place better than you found it, and I felt like myself and these seniors have definitely done everything that we could to create these great work patterns, these winning mentalities that hopefully these guys carry on,” Minshew said. “Because this place could be really special. It is really special. And to be a part of it is an honor, and I can’t wait to see what they do in the future.”
For Minshew and the rest of the senior class, they’ll go down as the leaders of the winningest season in Washington State history. As Pelluer and Minshew took to the podium to collect their offensive and defensive MVP trophies, the two embraced one last time as Cougars.
Head Coach Mike Leach echoed Minshew’s sentiments as he reflected on this season, and his senior class.
“Well, they’re an outstanding class, and they’re part of what built the foundation for us to start going to bowls since I’ve been there. They’re a group of guys that worked together, and they played early, and then as a result of their diligence, they’ve developed a vision of bigger things and higher aspirations were possible.”
Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler hauled in nine catches for 192 yards, the second most in Valero Alamo Bowl history. He dazzled the crowd of 60,650 all night with one-handed catches as the All-Conference player showed his skills. Running back David Montgomery ran for 124 yards on 26 carries and scored in the third quarter to bring the Cyclones within a touchdown.
Unfortunately for the Cyclones, Butler’s strong performance wasn’t enough as the All-Big 12 player was held without a reception in the 4th quarter. As the Cougars tried to run the clock out, Minshew II completed a pass to Dezmon Patmon for a first down and the Cyclones wouldn’t get the ball again.
The Valero Alamo Bowl champions notched their 11th win of the season, the most in school history. Washington State finished the season ranked No. 10 in the final AP poll, marking the fifth time in six years that the winner of the Valero Alamo Bowl has finished in the Top 10 at the end of the season.