The college football bowl season offers a wide array of matchups of teams that otherwise may never happen. The first week of games includes multiple high-powered offenses and a chance to see some record-breaking running backs, including Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Nevada vs. Arizona, 1:00 PM ET
The first true bowl game of the college football postseason offers a matchup of two of the most explosive offenses in the nation in the Arizona Wildcats and the Nevada Wolfpack.
The teams are each 7-5 on the season and are not far apart from each other in geography or philosophy: rush the ball. Both teams are ranked in the top 20 in the nation in rushing and scoring and have a running back that has topped 1,700 rushing yards this year.
Arizona came into the season with high expectations under first-year head coach Rich Rodriguez and started off 3-0, including a 59-38 win against then-No. 18 Oklahoma State. The Wildcats were ranked 22nd in the nation heading into the game against Oregon, but lost 49-0 on the road to start a three-game slide.
The defense has been the biggest issue for Arizona this season and could be the biggest factor in the bowl game against Nevada. The team gave up over 40 points five times this season and are ranked 103rd in the nation in defensive scoring.
The Wildcats will rely heavily on running back Ka'Deem Carey, who rushed for 1,757 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, including 172 in the final 41-34 loss against Arizona State.
Senior quarterback Matt Scott has been solid all year and will have a favorable matchup against a Nevada secondary that is allowing over 30 points per game. Scott has passed for 3,238 yards and 24 touchdowns and is completing over 60 percent of his passes.
Nevada will employ a similar attack against Arizona with dynamic running back Stefphon Jefferson, who had rushed for 1,703 yards and 20 touchdowns this year.
The Wolfpack started off the season 5-1 and had a five-game winning streak, but collapsed towards the end of the year, losing four of the last five games. The team finished the year with a 27-21 loss to No. 20 Boise State, giving the Broncos a share of the Mountain West title.
Nevada has the 7th-ranked passing attack in the nation with 260 yards per game and are ranked 20th in scoring. The team also is ranked 53rd in passing behind quarterback Cody Fajardo, who has passed for 2,530 yards and 17 touchdowns this year.
PREDICTION: Arizona 45, Nevada 31. The Wildcats will prove to be just too much offense for Nevada. The team played better defense down the stretch and will use Carey to take pressure off of the passing game. A high-scoring affair to kick off the bowl season.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Toledo vs. No. 22 Utah State 4:30 PM ET
The Utah State Aggies are one of the hottest teams in the nation heading into their matchup against the Toledo Rockets in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
The Aggies finished the season with a six game winning streak, including a 48-41 overtime victory against then-No. 20 ranked Louisiana Tech, and has scored at least 38 points in the last five games.
In the final game of the year, the Aggies gained only 250 yards, but won 45-9 against Idaho. Running back Kerwynn Williams has been stellar all season, rushing for 1,277 yards and 12 touchdowns. The senior rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the win against Louisiana Tech and has rushed for over 100 yards in three straight games.
Utah State finished as the No. 22-ranked team in the nation and has been impressive all year on defense, averaging just 15 points allowed per game. The team opened the season 4-1 before losing 6-3 on the road against BYU, but has since won every game by at least 20 points apart from one game.
Quarterback Chuckie Keeton has been efficient all season, passing for 3,144 yards and 27 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He is completing over 67 percent of his passes and will face a defense in Toledo that has allowed nearly 30 points per game.
Toledo was one of the most impressive teams in the MAC this season, but lost two of three games to end the year and lost a chance at the conference title. The team won their final game against Akron 35-23 and will use a balanced attack against Utah State in the bowl game.
The Rockets are ranked 39th in scoring this season and have a rushing attack the gains nearly 200 yards per game. David Fluellen has been the top star on the offense, rushing for 1,460 yards and 13 touchdowns. The junior has rushed for over 200 yards in three games this season and has gained at east 104 yards in six of the past seven games.
PREDICTION: Toledo 38, Utah State 35. Another high-scoring game. Although the Aggies have a solid defense, these early bowl games can get up into the high-digits when two solid offensive teams face each other. Toledo has some momentum entering the game off of a win, but will need to play their best to stop Utah State. They will in Idaho.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsetta Bowl
BYU vs. San Diego State
The San Diego State Aztecs rebounded from a disappointing 2-3 start this season to earn a share of the Mountain West conference title.
The team is currently on a seven game win streak and will put that on the line when they take on the Brigham Young Cougars in the Poinsetta Bowl. The Aztecs went 7-1 in the conference this season and finished the year with a 42-28 victory over Wyoming on the road.
The Aztecs are ranked 16th in the nation in rushing yards and will rely heavily on running back Adam Muema against a BYU defense that is allowing just 14 points per game this season. The sophomore has rushed for 1,355 yards and 16 touchdowns and has been the most impressive player on the roster this season.
San Diego State has the 28th-highest scoring offense in the country, but will face one of the best defenses in BYU. The Cougars have allowed just 41 points over the past three games and finished the year with a 50-14 victory on the road against New Mexico State.
BYU has used a balanced offensive attack this season and is ranked 51si in passing offense behind quarterback Riley Nelson, who has thrown for 2,011 yards and 13 touchdowns. The senior missed the final game against New Mexico State, but threw for 335 yards the previous week and has thrown a touchdown in five straight games.
The Cougars will be aggressive in trying to stop the running game of San Diego State and also has a running back that can carry the load in Jamaal Williams, who has scored 11 touchdowns this season.
PREDICTION: BYU 28, San Diego State 17. BYU was a disappointing 7-5 this season, but the defense has been stellar. The Aztecs are on a hot streak, but haven't played against a defense as tough as the Cougars.