The Washington State Cougars have been outstanding in the 2018 campaign, stunning their rivals with a 7-1 record to lead the PAC-12. The Cougars have been a solid team under the tenure of Mike Leach but the arrival of quarterback Gardner Minshew from East Carolina has taken the outfit to a new level.
The Cougars have been consistent on offense, suffering only one defeat at the hands of the USC Trojans when they failed to rise to the occasion in the fourth quarter. USC mounted a comeback late in the game to secure the victory at the Coliseum, ending the Cougars’ winning run.
Defying The Odds
Leach’s men recovered from the loss to the Trojans to continue their surge to the top of the PAC-12 standings. The team was a composed unit last season but did not threaten to become a force at the top of the conference. The Cougars won nine of their 12 games, although their campaign ended with a defeat against the Michigan State Spartans in the Holiday Bowl.
As a result, expectations of Washington State and Minshew were relatively in line with the performance of the 2017 campaign. Minshew’s displays on the field have added an extra dimension to the team, winning games single-handed with his ability to throw accurately under pressure. His presence alone has seen the view of the Cougars change this season so much so they’re now the eighth-ranked team in the college game.
The offensive production has surprised even the experts of the game, who have underestimated Minshew’s ability. Washington State is 8-0 against the spread this season due to their ability to consistently put points on the board. Minshew has been the driving factor, while Easop Winston, James Williams, and Davontavean Martin have allowed the team to become a force in the end zone, scoring with regularity.
Their potent offense means that expecting Leach’s side to continue to beat the spread for the rest of the season, even with greater challenges ahead of them, including the Washington Huskies in the Apple Cup in the final regular season game, is a sound football betting strategy.
FINAL: Washington State 41, Stanford 38.
— SI College Football (@si_ncaafb) October 28, 2018
Source: si_ncaafb via Twitter
Before his move to Washington State, Minshew’s highest touchdown total over a course of a campaign was 16 – he has already smashed that by recording 26 as of the 1st of November. The 22-year-old’s performances have seen him selected as one of the 20 semi-finalists for the Maxwell Award, while his stock for the 2019 NFL Draft is continuing to rise. For him to be considered for selection in the upper rounds of the selection process, Minshew will have to maintain the impeccable standard of his play for the Cougars.
NFL teams will particularly be looking at his outings on the big stage against the California Golden Bears along with the Huskies to see if he continue to match his outstanding performance against Stanford. The CFB Playoffs will likely be beyond Washington State due to the strength of their schedule compared to the other teams in the hunt. However, there should be a platform for the team and Minshew to continue their impressive form on offense. Averaging over 30 points per game, it will bring success for the Cougars and beyond for their quarterback.