Iowa State-Washington State Betting Guide: Will Air Raid Fall Flat in 2018 Alamo Bowl?

Iowa State-Washington State Betting Guide: Will Air Raid Fall Flat in 2018 Alamo Bowl? article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Gardner Minshew and Brock Purdy

2018 Alamo Bowl Betting Odds: Iowa State-Washington State

  • Odds: Washington State -2.5
  • Over/Under: 56.5
  • Date: Friday, Dec. 28
  • Location: San Antonio, Texas
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

>> All odds as of Thursday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets.


Washington State fell short of the Pac-12 Championship Game in a disappointing effort against Washington to end the season, and bettors aren’t counting on the Cougars to respond.

Iowa State is a trendy dog this bowl season, falling from +6.5 all the way to +2.5 as of Thursday morning. Should you side with the line move, or is there now value on Wazzu?

Odds Moves for Alamo Bowl

By Danny Donahue

Washington State opened as high as -6.5, but has fallen all the way through the key number of -3 down to -2.5. That movement is a result of the 86% of money that’s hit Iowa State on just 53% of bets.

As for the total, it’s risen despite a relatively split decision among the public. Fifty-two percent have taken the under, but with 84% of money landing on the over, the number is up from 54.5 to 56.5.

Trends to Know

By Steve Petrella

Mike Leach has been successful against the spread (ATS) at Washington State, covering nearly 60% of games. But with extra time off — bowl games, bye weeks, opening games — he hasn’t been great, per Bet Labs.

  • 1-3 ATS in bowl games (eclipsed 20 points once)
  • 2-5 ATS in season openers
  • 5-4 ATS with at least 10 days between games

The conventional thinking is that the Air Raid offense is all about rhythm, and when it hasn’t clicked in a game for a while, it struggles to get going.

By John Ewing

No. 13 Washington State is favored over No. 24 Iowa State. In bowl games with two Top 25 teams, the favorite has gone 53-63-1 ATS since 2005.

By Stuckey

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell is the second-most profitable ATS coach in the last five years. He’s gone 36-21-2.

Dissecting Wazzu’s Offense

By Stuckey

Washington State throws it as much as any team in the country, ranking 130th in Standard Downs Run Rate. However, that doesn’t mean the Cougars play fast.

They are a snail, ranking dead last (130th) in Adjusted Pace. For a team that passes that much, it is even more impressive that Wazzu ranks No. 1 in the nation in Adjusted Sack Rate and No. 2 in completion percentage.

It’s a slow, pass-heavy Air Raid offense that focuses on more short, quick passes than it does on explosive plays down the field (just 83rd in pass explosiveness). The Cougars average only 7.7 yards per pass attempt, which is the 77th-highest clip in the country.

Iowa State Running Game Will Be Key

By Stuckey

Washington State has an extremely effective pass rush that complied an impressive 35 sacks this season. The Cougars rank No. 3 in Adjusted Sack Rate on Passing Downs. That could cause all kinds of issues against an Iowa State offensive line that has struggled this season, ranking 76th in Adjusted Sack Rate.

The key will be star running back David Montgomery and the Iowa State rushing attack on first and second downs against a vulnerable Washington State rush defense.

But can Iowa State get a running game that has struggled all season going? Surprisingly, Iowa State averaged only 3.5 yards per carry this season. That’s 119th in the country and second-fewest among bowl teams.

If the Clones can’t get Montgomery going against a Washington State team that ranks 96th in Rushing S&P+ Defense, those third-and-longs could turn into trouble with how good Wazzu’s pass rush is.

Purdy Made the Difference

By Steve Petrella

After Iowa State gained fewer than 200 yards in Week 4 against TCU — the second time it finished under 200 — it made a change at quarterback.

Enter Brock Purdy, a true freshman who was clearly the best option on the roster.

Purdy completed 66.3% of his passes and averaged 10.0 yards per pass attempt this season. That was third nationally behind only Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray. Not bad. ISU finished 33rd in passing S&P+, as well.

The offense got better as a whole, too.

  • 4 games without Purdy: 4.8 yards per play
  • 8 games with Purdy: 6.06 yards per play.

That’s the difference between Oregon’s offense and Rice’s offense.

Who’s More Motivated?

By Stuckey

I’m not sure if Washington State will be up for this one after how its season ended. On the other hand, Iowa State won seven of its past eight after a slow 1-3 start. This team has a ton of potential next year and I trust Campbell to have his team ready to go.

I’ll give a slight edge to Iowa State, but focus on the matchups and the fact that the extended break should hurt Washington State’s rhythm offense much more.

Bet to Watch

By Collin Wilson

Motivation can be questioned on the Washington State side. After making a run in the College Football Playoff rankings for a number of weeks, the Cougars lost in the Apple Cup. That game not only ended any whispers of playoff talk, but also denied Washington State the chance to win the Pac-12.

Quarterback Gardner Minshew had a few radio interviews speaking directly to the fanbase about how important the Alamo Bowl is to the health of the program.

Mike Leach heads to the Alamo Bowl with an Air Raid offense that’s plenty familiar to the Big 12.

Matt Campbell continues to be one of the hottest coaches in the country, winning seven of his last eight with Iowa State. Ranking 31st in S&P+ defense, Iowa State is built to stop similar Air Raid teams in the Big 12, but the implementation of quarterback Brock Purdy midseason made the Cyclones conference contenders.

Iowa State is 23rd in defensive passing S&P+, which should be even more magnified considering Washington State is 130th in standard downs run rate. Mike Leach is looking to pass on any down and distance.

Speaking of Leach, there have been consistent struggles when Washington State plays in its first game of the season, off a bye week or in a bowl game.

Leach is 1-3 ATS in bowl games at Wazzu, with his lone victory over an interim staff. This game will be a hot ticket and must-watch TV, but I will take the points as I have this game projected closer to a pk than the current +2.5 for the Cyclones.

Collin’s Pick: Iowa State

By Stuckey

I also love Iowa State here. Its top 25 S&P+ pass defense can match up with Gardner Minshew and company, while I think David Montgomery will win that critical battle for yardage on first and second downs.

Leach’s Air Raid offense has always struggled after extended layoffs and I don’t see that changing this time around, especially considering the team’s last game came on Nov. 23!

Stuckey’s Pick: Iowa State

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