Sunday, December 2, 2012
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
By David Helman and Ted Miller
Nevada Wolf Pack (7-5) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-5)
Dec. 15, 1 p.m. ET, Albuquerque, N.M. (ESPN)
Nevada take from RecruitingNation blogger David Helman: Unlike in 2010, Nevada's upset bid against Mountain West rival Boise State fell just short in Reno. The 27-21 loss capped off a 1-4 finish that saw the Wolf Pack drop from 6-1 to 7-5.
The rushing attack that gained so much notoriety under Colin Kaepernick was at full throttle once again in 2012, as the Wolf Pack boasted the nation's No. 7 rushing attack with 260 yards per game. The bulk of that went to junior running back Stefphon Jefferson, who rushed for 1,703 yards and 22 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Cody Fajardo added 981 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground to go with an efficient 2,530 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air.
A scoring defense ranked among the worst in the sport is going to be the big regret for this Wolf Pack team. Boise State's 27 points were the lowest output by an opponent in Nevada's losses. The Wolf Pack defense allowed 32, 39, 48 and 52 points in their other four setbacks.
Arizona take by Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller: Arizona had an up-and-down season, one that featured some impressive wins.
The first four losses came to ranked teams. That was justifiable. But losing the finale at home to rival Arizona State quashed some of the momentum built up in new coach Rich Rodriguez's first year.
Still, this team, which entered the season with a highly questionable defense found ways to win -- mostly because of its high-powered offense. Senior QB Matt Scott took to Rodriguez's spread-option attack with aplomb, and running back Ka'Deem Carey finished second in the nation in rushing.
First, there was a fast start. The Wildcats started 3-0 with wins over Toledo -- it looked better as the season went on -- and Oklahoma State. The Wildcats went to Oregon with high hopes, but were stomped 49-0. They then lost in overtime at Stanford 54-48, but that was double what any other Cardinal foe would score against the conference's best defense.
Arizona then posted impressive wins over Washington and USC. The Wildcats were in the South Division race, which meant they had Rose Bowl hopes. But those mostly died at UCLA after a shocking 66-10 defeat.
The Wildcats bounced back with consecutive wins over Colorado and Utah, but the home loss to Arizona State in the season-finale leaves Arizona needing a bowl win to head into the offseason feeling good about itself.