In just a couple more days there will be here.
The Cats are playing in the very first bowl game of the 2012-’13 season. The early date has caused logistical issues for the team and fans but at least the players get some paint out of the deal.
Wait, the New Mexico Bowl sponsor isn’t Glidden, the paint company? Oh, Gildan? What do they do?
Socks? All right then. I hope the players get some cool socks.
RichRod doesn’t have a lot of experience with lower tier bowls. All six of his teams’ postseason appearances at West Virginia were as either the first or second place team in the Big East. He coached in the 2002 Continental Tire Bowl on Dec. 28 but every bowl after that was in January. Even his one bowl game at Michigan, after going 7-5 in 2010, was the Gator Bowl played on New Year’s Day.
The short turnaround makes it more like an extended bye week than a full bowl preparation. The positive is it decreases the chances of the team coming out rusty and it’s less time for the Wildcats to hear how big a favorite they are against Nevada.
The challenge for Rodriguez and his coaching staff is to get their team ready to play its best and not worry about what bowl they’re in and what conference the Wolf Pack is from.
What I really want to see is Matt Scott completing some passes early. The big storyline is obviously the battle between the nation’s top two rushers but Scott hasn’t completed over half his passes in a game since returning from his injury. Scott excelling as a redshirt senior this year was a huge part of the team’s surprising success and it would be great to see him end his college career on a high note.
Challenging Nevada from sideline to sideline with the passing game will also open up running lanes so Ka’Deem Carey can break the long runs needed to win the rushing title.
We took a look at all the backs still in the hunt for that title but on Saturday it’s a two-man race. Arizona’s Carey and Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson will share the same field with the Wildcat holding a 55-yard advantage.
The Arizona defense gives up 190 rushing yards a game while the Wolf Pack surrenders an average of 213 yards per game on the ground. The race may end up looking like a track meet.
It’s been a topic of conversation for the past month but don’t take it for granted. Arizona has a consensus All-American who is leading the FBS in rushing on a team that was 11th in Pac-12 in rushing last year.
Losing a bowl game is not incredible. I realize it happens to 35 teams each year but it still ruins half your trip. I don’t regret going to either of the UA’s last two bowls but those were not fun rides home. Add in the bad taste of losing the Territorial Cup and the Wildcats could really use one last 2012 victory. Taking a two-game losing streak into the offseason would put a damper on what has otherwise been an excellent first year for RichRod.
A win would mean an 8-5 record (matching Mike Stoops’ best two years) with five victories in the team’s final seven games. That would take the excellent first year and add an exclamation point.
One last game to enjoy and then we start counting down to the start of the second year of the Rich Rodriguez era.
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