If you’re going to remember the Alamo, might as well remember the mustache too.
Gardner Minshew II closed out his storybook season with No. 13 Washington State, delivering a program-record 11th victory for the Cougars as they managed to hold off pesky No. 24 Iowa State 28-26 in yet another thrilling Alamo Bowl deep in the heart of Texas.
The energetic quarterback put his team on his back once again and wound up throwing for 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding another score on the ground for good measure (he also led the team in rushing in the game with 16 yards). Minshew continued to leave his mark in the history books too, setting the Pac-12 single-season record for passing yards (passing some guy named Jared Goff) and set school records for yardage and total completions as well.
As has been the case quite a bit this year, Minshew spread the ball around plenty. Nine different players caught a pass and seven had at least 20 yards through the air on the night. Tailback Max Borghi was particularly elusive, catching six passes while also rushing for 13 yards and a touchdown. The Cougs defense also stepped up with a big time performance in recording three sacks and picking off a pair of passes — one of which should have been a pick-six that was negated by a taunting penalty.
Despite the all-around effort from the visitors from the Palouse, ISU did not go quietly into the night after a rough first half was marked by several starters being ejected due to targeting and saw such frustration that typically mild-mannered head coach Matt Campbell took an unsportsmanlike penalty. QB Brock Purdy also tossed a pair of interceptions early but the freshman help lead yet another late rally in throwing for 315 yards and rushing for two more scores.
Helping the cause for the Cyclones were naturally two of their best players. Running back David Montgomery was hard to tackle on every snap and rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown while hauling in four passes for 55 yards as well. Wideout Hakeem Butler was a beast as well, racking up 192 yards on nine catches and dominating the much smaller secondary of the Cougs.
It just wasn’t enough in the end though as Wazzu capped off a truly remarkable season under Mike Leach this year. Not only did they set a new record for most wins in program history, but they also won their first bowl game since 2015 and delivered the Pac-12’s first postseason victory in over a calendar year too.
There were not a lot of bright spots out West on the gridiron in 2018 but Minshew’s mustache and the play of his Cougars certainly qualify after capping things off with the ‘W’ in the Alamo Bowl.