Arizona Wildcats Take On the Nevada Wolf Pack
If you’re looking for a game with a lot of offense, there’s probably no better way to start the college bowl season than with these two teams at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque on Saturday.
Arizona and Nevada, both 7-5 teams, are known for their prolific attacks — their ground and air games are all rated in the top 20 in the U.S. — while their defenses are inconsistent at best, costing them games and higher spots in the bowl rankings. In particular, the Wolf Pack is terrible against the run (213.2 yards allowed per game), which should be music to the ears of Wildcats running back Ka’Deem Carey.
His goal is to get 243 rushing yards in this game and become the 16th running back in NCAA history with a 2,000-yard season. It’s within his reach: Carey ran for a Pac-12 record 366 yards against Colorado on Nov. 10, and his 1,767 yards is a new Arizona school mark.
Carey’s counterpart at Nevada, running back Stefphon Jefferson, ranks second only to Carey on the rush with 1,703 yards and a 141.9 per-game average: he needs only 30 yards to establish a new standard at his school. Not only does the Wildcats’ defense face a daunting task with Jefferson, they also have to find ways to contain mobile quarterback Cody Fajardo — 981 rushing yards is sixth-best among college QBs. Fajardo has emerged from the shadow of 49ers pivot Colin Kaepernick by throwing for 2,530 yards and 28 total TDs, 17 in the air and 11 on the ground.
While Nevada coughs up an average of 32.5 points per game, Arizona is worse — 34.3 PPG — while surrendering 485.7 total yards per contest and 52 touchdowns (4.3 per game), with 30 on the ground. So it would be a surprise to see both teams combine for fewer than 70 points.
Both have had similar results on the road, with Nevada going 5-1 and Arizona 6-2. The Pack started with high hopes after compiling a 6-1 record but then lost four of its next five and allowing 37 points or more in four of those games. They know how to manufacture total yards, averaging 503 per contest, but they know how to give up yards too — 431 per game.
The line started with Arizona favored by eight points but even at that level, the Wolf Pack has faded during the week to the point where they’re now nine-point underdogs. This shouldn’t be a shock, given that Nevada is just 2-5 against the spread in bowl games the past seven seasons.
Prediction: Arizona 45, Nevada 38.
RESULT: Down 48-35 with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Arizona roared back with two touchdowns in the final minute to edge Nevada 49-48.