ALBUQUERQUE — Arizona Wildcats senior center Kyle Quinn was being typically optimistic when he said recently about the New Mexico Bowl:
“It’s the first bowl game. Every college football fan and every player is going to be watching this game.”
The bowl is more apt to fly under the radar, be digested in 60 seconds on SportsCenter, and then every college football fan and every player will be quickly moving on to higher-profile matchups. As ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd said this week: “This could be one of the best bowl games that nobody will watch.”
The hoped-for entertainment value comes from the combination of two teams that very well could move the ball and score as many points as in any bowl game this season (noted exception: the Holiday Bowl matchup between UCLA and Baylor).
Combined, the Cats and Pack average 1,024 yards and 74 points per game.
While much of the attention has been focused on the running backs — Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson — I’m thinking UA quarterback Matt Scott has a big, final game in an Arizona uniform.
As Nevada senior linebacker Albert Rosette said Friday: “You don’t have to worry about just stopping Ka’Deem. You have to worry about stopping a whole offense.”
Scott will be taking aim at a Nevada defense that has only four interceptions this season. Senior receiver Dan Buckner should be more productive after giving a bum ankle time to heal after the end of the regular season. His presence on the outside will let Austin Hill keep working from the slot, where he is more effective.
Arizona has been miserable in its last two bowl appearances, out-classed by Nebraska and Oklahoma State 69-10. This time, the Wildcats have superior raw material to work with against a Nevada team that has lost five of its past six bowl games.
The Cats will keep the pressure on with their offense and get a few random stops from their defense, leaving Albuquerque with the program’s first bowl win since 2008.
Arizona 43, Nevada 35.