Greetings. After a multi-week absence we’re back. And if we’re talking bowls, it’s been a multi-year absence. So it goes when the home team falls on its face in two straight late December games. But back we are, to recognize the best Washington State Cougars performances in the Alamo Bowl. It’s been so long since WSU’s last bowl win that I had to look up the last winner.
The honoree that day was then-Sophomore Jamal Morrow, who had 121 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. As good as he was, that wasn’t the part of the article that caught my eye. Before we got to Jamal’s accomplishments, there was this blurb:
As an aside, it’s funny how we Coug fans always seem to hope for snow during a game, what with the 1992 Apple Cup being etched into our memories. But after what we saw out of the offense in the snow Saturday, I’m cool with a clean surface and clear skies for every game in the future.
On to the matter at hand. There were a few very good individual performances Friday night, but there weren’t any that jumped out of the TV screen or the stat sheet. While picking the top players wasn’t the most difficult thing in the world, discerning between them was a bit of a challenge. Ok, the winner was pretty obvious, but the runners-up all have an argument for second place.
One more time in 2018...
Honorable Mention: Marcus Strong
Strong made two of the game’s biggest plays, and has an argument for the game’s top play, when he picked off a Brock Purdy pass and took it the distance, kind of. Later on, Strong made another big play when he hit Brock Purdy from the blind side, knocking Iowa State out of field goal range.
Marcus Strong had a clear path to the QB...and clearly took advantage.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) December 29, 2018
ESPN@WSUCougFB | #BackThePac pic.twitter.com/5lC1tLJfr1
Strong tied for the team lead with seven solo tackles as well. And while he had his share of difficulty covering Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler, I don’t think he was the first person to go through that this season.
2nd Runner-Up: Peyton Pelluer
Pelluer had another typical game. That is to say Pelluer played a critical role in WSU’s victory. The Honorable Mention all-conference performer, who was part of a fifth WSU bowl team, led the team one more time in tackles, racking up 11 in all and seven solo stops. Among those was 1.5 TFLs, including a sack.
Pelluer saved his best for last, however, making one of the game’s biggest plays. Iowa State had scored 10 straight points, and had the ball again following a WSU punt. At that point, the defense was reeling quite a bit. After David Montgomery pounded his way to what would be another first down, Pelluer met him head-on. Advantage: Cougs. When the smoke cleared, the ball was in Pelluer’s arms, WSU was in business and the subsequent Max Borghi touchdown provided the deciding points. Thank you for everything, Peyton.
1st Runner-Up: Dezmon Patmon
The 2018 evolution of Dezmon Patmon was on full display again Friday night. Dez showed us once again just how far he has come since last season ended, when he was pretty much an afterthought in the receiver rotation. That was definitely not the case in 2018, and Patmon put his best foot (and hands) forward one more time in the Alamo Bowl.
Five of Patmon’s six catches resulted in a first down or a touchdown. Oh, and that touchdown? Thing. Of. Beauty. Patmon went up higher than everyone else, by a lot, and brought down a pass most humans wouldn’t get near. Not only that, he got two feet and an elbow down.
...yeah we need another look at that catch. @WSUCougFB | #Pac12FB— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) December 29, 2018
Patmon also made an incredible catch on the game’s final possession. With WSU facing second-and-nine, and needing one more first down to put the game away, Gardner Minshew dropped back and threw what could only be deemed a low-percentage pass to Patmon’s back shoulder. Despite tight coverage, Patmon used nearly every part of his body to reel it in. It was a fittingly outstanding catch to cap what was a great season for Mr. Patmon.
Winner: Gardner Minshew II
Couldn’t be anyone else, could it? Truth be told, Minshew was half way to the award before he boarded the plane.
Next stop: San Antonio! #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/K958EV0jw8— WSU Cougar Football (@WSUCougFB) December 23, 2018
Once the whistle blew, he did nothing to dispel the notion that he would be ready to go in his final WSU game. Minshew had the Cougs on the move out of the gate, but a promising drive was undone by a James Williams fumble. Minshew got rolling after Marcus Strong’s interception, tossing a perfect strike to Renard Bell on 3rd-and-12 to give WSU an early lead.
Minshew finds a WIDE-OPEN Renard Bell for the early lead! #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/tcfwXKiznw— WSU Cougar Football (@WSUCougFB) December 29, 2018
As good as that pass was, it was a walk in the park compared to what he did next. On 2nd-and-goal from the Iowa State seven yardline, Minshew pulled some no-kidding Johnny Manziel magic (college version, obviously), escaping heavy pressure, evading a tackler and diving into the endzone for a 14-0 lead.
Almost sacked, but scored a TD instead? Your quarterback would never. @WSUCougFB up 14-0 in the second quarter.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) December 29, 2018
I will never have any idea how he did that.
Minshew wasn’t done with the escape artistry. In the fourth quarter, while clinging to a one-point lead and having been handed great field position, WSU faced 3rd-and-10 at the Iowa State 30. Failure meant a long field goal try, and what would have only been a possible four point lead. That’s when, as he has done nearly all season, Minshew put the team on his back and willed WSU to a scoring chance.
Gardner Minshew II— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) December 29, 2018
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Get sacked |
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Pass for the first down
ESPN@WSUCougFB | #AlamoBowl pic.twitter.com/ll0bgTzzNh
Aside: What is it with that dashed line/pin thing?
Anyway, one play later Max Borghi was trucking his way to another touchdown, and WSU kept the lead for good.
Minshew didn’t have one of his best games, stats-wise, as he failed to reach the 300 yard mark for just the second time all season. But he came through every time it mattered, throwing two touchdown passes and piecing together a spectacular run for a third score. He also didn’t turn the ball over, and avoided several sacks.
All in all, it was the last of several incredible performances Minshew gave WSU’s team and fans this season. Minshew was a gift from the heavens. Or Mississippi. A gift from the Mississippi heavens. Thank you for a dream season, Gardner. We will never forget it.
Who was WSU’s Player of the Week in the Alamo Bowl?
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Matt Campbell’s timeout chair