NEVADA WOLF PACK (7-5)
vs. ARIZONA WILDCATS (7-5)
New Mexico Bowl - Albuquerque, NM
Kickoff: Saturday, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Arizona -9.5, Total: 76
The bowl season kicks off Saturday afternoon when Arizona and Nevada meet in Albuquerque for the New Mexico Bowl.
This game features the top two rushers in the nation with Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey (146 rushing YPG) and Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson (142 rushing YPG). Both schools are averaging at least 37.0 PPG and 500 total YPG this year. The Wildcats are just 1-3 SU (2-2 ATS) in non-home games this season, getting outscored by an average of 48 to 23. Nevada is 5-1 SU (2-4 ATS) in non-home games, outscoring these teams by 10.0 PPG (39.7 PPG to 29.7 PPG). Arizona has lost its past two bowls by a combined score of 69 to 10, while the Wolf Pack is 0-4-1 ATS in bowls over the past five years.
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Nevada QB Cody Fajardo ranks 11th in the nation in total offense (319 YPG), as he has totaled 2,530 passing yards and 17 TD, throwing just seven picks in 336 pass attempts. Fajardo has also run for 981 yards and 11 scores. But he was horrendous in last season's Hawaii Bowl defeat to Southern Miss, completing just 8-of-19 passes for 60 yards (3.2 YPA), 0 TD and 1 INT. Jefferson had just one carry in that 24-17 bowl loss, but he has gotten at least 19 rushing attempts in every game this season, totaling 341 carries (28.4 per game). This has resulted in 78+ yards in each contest and nine 100-yard games, including 267 yards (5.2 YPC) and 3 TD over the past two games. Jefferson is tied for second in the nation with 23 touchdowns, including six games with at least 2 TD runs. Defensively, this Wolf Pack team struggles in all facets this year, allowing 32.5 PPG and 431 total YPG. They have been especially hurt by opposing ground games, giving up the 12th-most rushing yards in the nation (213 YPG). Nevada's defense has not forced more than two turnovers in any game this season, compiling a pathetic five takeaways in the past six contests.
Arizona senior QB Matt Scott ranks seventh in the nation in total offense with 338 YPG, but he slumped towards the end of the year with just 514 passing yards (171 YPG, 5.6 YPA), 4 TD and 3 INT in his final three games, losing two of them. There has been no such slump for the nation's leading rusher though, as Carey has compiled 100-yard games in seven of his past eight contests, including a ridiculous 742 yards (9.8 YPC) and 7 TD over his final three games of the regular season. Arizona also has explosive wide receivers capable of huge games with Austin Hill (73 rec., 1,189 yds, 9 TD) and Dan Buckner (59 rec., 741 yds, 5 TD). The Wildcats defense has been atrocious all year, allowing 36+ points in seven of 12 games, and surrendering the fifth-most yards in the nation (486 total YPG). Arizona's minus-2 turnover margin this season has added to the defensive woes.