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2018 Bowl Coverage

Takeaways: Iowa State Shows Resilience In Close Alamo Bowl Loss

Iowa State recovered from an early deficit and almost came away with a win in the Alamo Bowl. What can we take away from this gutsy performance?

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Getty Images - Tim Warner

The 2018 Alamo Bowl between Iowa State and Washington State was eventful from start to finish. There were three turnovers early in this game, which in part helped the Cougars to jump out to a 21-7 lead. That would be the widest margin in this game the rest of the way out, however, as the Cyclones battled back to make it 21-10 at halftime.

Iowa State exploded offensively in the second half, but 16 points in two quarters by the Cyclones fell just two points shy of what they needed to possibly send this one into overtime. Washington State would manage to escape with the win, 28-26. Below are some things we could take away from this game.

THE CYCLONES WERE ABLE TO MOVE THE BALL…AND HOW

Iowa State had the better offensive performance in this game in a lot of ways. The Cyclones were the only team to end this contest with over 500 yards of total offense, and surpassed 200 yards in both the air and on the ground, and outgained Washington State by 188 yards. Brock Purdy averaged 11.7 yards per game, and this was arguably the most explosive that the Cyclones have looked throughout 2018. Purdy’s ability to make plays with his feet and keep plays alive set up long gains just like this one:

THIS DEFENSE DID ABOUT ALL YOU COULD ASK OF THEM

Iowa State became only the second team to hold the Cougars under 300 yards passing in 2018, a statistic that very well could have contributed to a Cyclone victory here. Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock’s unit lived up to its reputation, and arguably more, as Iowa State was able to get pressure on quarterback Gardner Minshew all night long. Iowa State ended the game with six quarterback hurries and two sacks, evidence of the kind of havoc they wreaked all night long.

MONTGOMERY AND BUTLER WERE OUTSTANDING

Both draft-eligible players showed off their elite skills throughout this game. It would be hard to blame both of them for entering the NFL Draft next year, because they both had strong performances against Washington State.

Butler probably had the slightly better game, though, simply because of Montgomery’s fumble late in the contest. Together, however, they accounted for 371 yards from scrimmage in the Alamodome, and both players got there doing the things that they do best:

TURNOVERS MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE

Penalties definitely had an impact in this contest, and there was certainly some questionable officiating in this one. There were other aspects of this game that could changed it for the Cyclones, including the Connor Assalley 49-yard field goal that bounced just off the right upright. That turned out to be huge in a contest ultimately decided by two points.

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But the biggest reason that Iowa State didn’t come away with a victory in San Antonio has to be the turnovers. Washington State was able to get 14 points off two of them, each of which set the Cougars up inside the 30 yard line of the Cyclones. With the way they played overall on both sides of the ball, Iowa State probably could have won this game if they were only minus-one in turnover margin. ISU probably gave the ball away one too many times in the Alamodome, though.

THERE ARE A LOT OF REASONS TO BE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT IOWA STATE

There is a relentless quality to Iowa State under Matt Campbell and it absolutely was on show in the Alamo Bowl. At multiple points throughout this game, it would have been very easy for this team to pack it in. Instead, the Cyclones managed to come back from being down 21-7 early and had themselves in position to win this game.

They contained Washington State’s offense for most of the game, and were in a strong position to win this game despite multiple obstacles in their way. They may not have Montgomery or Butler next year, but just from the eye test Iowa State looks like a serious Big 12 contender for 2019.

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