The Washington State University Cougars may not be able to claim an undefeated season but they always know how to party – at least according to star quarterback Gardner Minshew.
“We may be a little outnumbered around here but it’s been Cougs versus everybody all year and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Minshew said at a pep rally ahead of the 2018 Alamo Bowl. “I will tell you one other thing: We’ve lost two games this year but we haven’t lost a party.”
Coug fans will be outnumbered at the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. At last check, WSU sold 5,200 of its 6,000 allotted tickets. The athletic director at Iowa State University – the team challenging WSU for the bowl title – expects 25,000 Cyclones fans in attendance.
The Cougs may be few in number at the bowl game but they are mighty in spirit, one fan said.
The Alamo Bowl will be the Cougs’ first ever match-up against Iowa State, a big 12 team that has won seven out of its last eight games.
This is the second time the Cougs have played in the Alamo Bowl and it's WSU’s fourth straight bowl game – a program record. It is also the program’s 15th bowl and coach Mike Leach’s fifth bowl in six years. At the Alamo Bowl, the Cougs hope to snag their eleventh win of the season while setting a program record for single-season wins.
Minshew left the WSU fieldhouse in Pullman wearing a red and silver Cougars leisure suit. Head coach Mike Leach told the media it belonged to an alumnus who wants to retire it after this recent outing.
"The guy had worn it at multiple games – big fan – sent it down to the facility and I'm borrowing it for this game. ...Man it's been awesome. It was a lot of fun doing that," Minshew said.
Minshew said the alumnus wore the leisure suit for the last time during College GameDay.
Minshew also chatted about his signature mustache ahead of the big game, which many fans believe is somewhat of a good luck charm for the team.
One journalist asked how much money it would take for the quarterback to shave it off. His answer is priceless.
“I don’t know if it’s even in dollars right now. Maybe I’d trade it for three wishes from a genie or maybe executive power of the United States of America – something like that. To put a dollar figure on it is just absurd. Good question.”
Earlier this month, Minshew said he was thinking of shaving the mustache after the bowl games but it would “be hard when it comes really time to part ways with it.”
“My naked face, I don't know if that's a good thing. It is almighty. It is powerful. I think it deserves a lot of credit for what has happened this year,” he added.
Minshew’s father Flint is blown away by the power of the stache. Flint and other members of the Minshew family sat down with KREM’s Brenna Greene in November.
“I always come home like, ‘You aren’t going to believe all these people wearing mustaches,’” said Flint Minshew in November.
“People are freaking out because they know he’s from Mississippi because they call him the Mississippi Mustache,” said Minshew's sister Meredith in November. “They’re like, ‘We don’t personally know him, but we feel like we do so we’re going to support.’”
In early December, Minshew was named the Pac-21 offensive player of the year. Despite much speculation from sports analysts and hope from fans, Minshew was not nominated for the prestigious Heisman trophy.
In a recent interview with Brenna Greene, Minshew said his football philosophy is centered on believing in himself.
"I just have that belief in myself," Minshew said. "You put the ball in my hands with a game winning drive, I'll take my chances more than anybody else. I'm the one who wants the ball."
Minshew said his ultimate goal is to play in the NFL.
"I want to play in the NFL for as long as I can. I want to start in the NFL. Be a great NFL quarterback. Win a lot of games. That's what I want to do for as long as I can. When I finish that I want to coach football and be around it till I die,” he said.
KREM Sports Director Brenna Greene contributed to this story.