The 2018 Cougar football season started with a simple foundation.

"I just have that belief in myself," said Gardner Minshew. "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."

That belief played out time and time again this season, and it started well before the Cougs took the field.

"I think it's probably in the preparation and the work I've put in," said Minshew. "The time I've spent with these guys and these receivers. Knowing and being in those situations, knowing that I think we're going to come up with it."

At the beginning of the season though, not many saw that as being a possibility, except Gardner and his teammates.

"I think it started in camp. We all came together. We saw the team we could have. We defined our expectations early. We said we wanted to win the Pac-12, and we were going to aim high. I think believing and setting those high goals for ourselves really helped us have a good season."

Those goals very nearly became reality, and they also helped both Gardner and his teammates focus on what was important.

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"The biggest thing is that we always say is we don't listen to the noise. We don't care what they say. We know what we are. We believe in ourselves. That hasn't changed. The whole time I felt like I was the best quarterback in the Pac-12 even when people were saying I was the tenth or whatever. That doesn't really change anything that we do."

WSU fans definitely wouldn't want that to happen, especially with what is at stake when Gardner takes the field again December 28th.

"Got a chance to win big number 11, something that's never been done here. I think it would be a testament to this team that most people counted out. We just believed in ourselves and we have a chance to be one of the best teams on Washington State history. I think that's really cool. That's something we take a lot of pride in."

As for what's after Washington State?

Well, considering what Gardner has accomplished this season in part due to his sheer power of belief, it shouldn't surprise you.

"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."

In the near future though, Gardner does have one big decision to make: When to shave the 'stache.

"That's to be decided. I was thinking after the bowl game, but it's going to be hard when it comes really time to part ways with it. We'll just have to see. It's going to be awhile though, at least a month. I'm scared without 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."