Alamo Bowl Preview: Take 'Under' When ISU, WSU Pass Defenses Collide

Tuesday, December 18, 2018 11:19 AM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018 11:19 AM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on the Alamo Bowl. The game from San Antonio, Texas is Friday, December 28, at 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. Bet confidently with tips from SBRpicks.com.

Alamo Bowl:No. 24 Iowa State (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. No. 13 Washington State (10-2 SU and ATSFriday, Dec. 28, 9:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)Alamodome, San Antonio, TexasFree NCAAF Pick: UNDERBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The Iowa State Cylcones are in Year Three under head coach Matt Campbell, and they’re bowling for the second time after upsetting Memphis (–3.5) 21-20 at the 2017 Liberty Bowl. The Washington State Cougars are in their seventh season with Mike Leach under the headset; they’re 1-3 SU and ATS in bowl games during his tenure, and they’re 3.5-point favorites in this matchup after opening at –6.5.

How They Got Here

The Cyclones have put together two of the best seasons in team history with Campbell at the controls. They’ve dropped four straight games ATS heading into the bowl season, after a mid-season run that included upset wins over Oklahoma State (–10 at home) and West Virginia (–4.5 away). The Cougars saw their CFP hopes slip away when they lost the Apple Cup to Washington (+2.5 away) in a 28-15 final.

Why Iowa State Can Win/Cover

Campbell and the Cyclones faced significantly tougher competition in the Big 12 – and beyond – than Leach and the Cougars did in the Pac-12. Iowa State’s battle-tested defense is superior to Wazzu’s; Campbell was an All-American defensive lineman at the University of Mount Union (Div. III) before cutting his teeth as an offensive coach. He was given a contract extension through 2024 earlier this month, and was named Big 12 Coach of the Year for the second straight season.

Covering the Alamo Bowl would have been easier at +6.5, but at least Iowa State get to play a Cougars team that should have motivation issues after getting left out of the Big Six bowls. They’ve already made a meal of back-to-back Holiday Bowl appearances, and their two losses this year were against the two best pass defenses in the Pac-12: Washington, and California. It’s about as good a matchup as Iowa State could have hoped for – thus the early action from the sharps.

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Iowa State announces a contract extension off Matt Campbell through 2024
School is committing $1 million more for assistant coaches. pic.twitter.com/wPMBPDFNvK

— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) 9 de dezembro de 2018
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Why Washington State Can Win/Cover

The Cougars still have one of the more impressive offenses in college football, checking in at No. 14 on the S&P+ Ratings at Football Outsiders. QB Gardner Minshew, a grad transfer from East Carolina, stepped in after Tyler Hilinski committed suicide in January and put together one of the greatest seasons in school history, finishing fifth in the Heisman voting and winning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors.

The Cougs aren’t too bad at pass defense, either, sitting at No. 22 on the S&P+ charts – one spot above Iowa State. Overall, they’re No. 19 on the F/+ Combined Ratings, again ahead of No. 39 ISU. And their offense won’t have to worry about snow at the Alamodome, unlike at the Apple Cup where their offense was stuck in neutral. Even if the Cyclones were a sharp pick at the open, moving all the way to –3.5 might be an overreaction; ESPN’s Football Power Index projects Wazzu’s chances of winning the Alamo Bowl at 63.9 percent, which is closer to –5 according to Wizard of Odds.

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Gardner Minshew was the Pac-12's highest-graded QB for a reason pic.twitter.com/rhT4FnDsla

— PFF College (@PFF_College) 15 de dezembro de 2018
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Common Opponent/Series History

These two teams didn’t share a common opponent in 2018, and they have yet to play a game against each other with a betting line attached.

Final Verdict

It might not snow at the Alamodome, but the UNDER is still the preferred play in this matchup. The total has risen slightly from 54.5 point to 55 since the open, with 57 percent of early bettors on the OVER; the first thing most bettors will think about with the Alamo Bowl is the Cougars (OVER 5-3) and Leach’s spread offense, but the Cyclones have the UNDER at 7-3-2, and their defense should have the motivation edge in this matchup. If that doesn’t work, mediocre place-kicking from both sides will help the final score stay below the posted total.

Alamo Bowl History & Betting Trends
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