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The pick: Why Washington State will beat Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl

SAN ANTONIO – For one, Gardner Minshew and the Cougars won’t have to navigate another slippery, snowy tundra as they make another run at winning their 11th game of the season.

Washington State won’t mind spending three to four hours trapped inside the San Antonio Alamodome for Friday’s Alamo Bowl against Iowa State. The Cougars won’t have to worry about the elements, but they will have to worry about a cyclone – rather the Cyclones, of Iowa State, who’ve been known to present challenges to offenses such as the WSU Air Raid.

Behind Cal, Utah and Washington, ISU is statistically the fourth-best defense the Cougars have faced this season. The Cyclones have an All-America defender in the back end, cornerback Brian Peavy, and they have a tendency to flip from a 3-4 to 4-3 without making substitutions. While that isn’t terribly unique, or something that’s exclusive to the Cyclones, it’s not something Minshew and the Cougars have seen much of this season.

Minshew’s ability to detect the different coverages will be important in this game. On the other side of the ball, WSU’s coverage of ISU giant Hakeem Butler, a 6-foot-6 wide receiver who’s exceeded 1,000 receiving yards this season.

The Cougars dealt with a number of distractions – or, things that could be perceived as distractions – before last year’s Holiday Bowl against Michigan State, and it seemed to play some role in a 42-17 loss to the Spartans.

A better, more experienced WSU team hasn’t let anything like that filter into the locker room this bowl season, and it should show under the Friday night lights in San Antonio.

The pick: Washington State 27, Iowa State 21.