New Mexico Bowl preview: Arizona vs. Nevada
The 2012-13 college football postseason kicks off Saturday with two games, starting with the New Mexico Bowl featuring Arizona and Nevada.
Let's take a look at some of the most important aspects of this matchup between the Wildcats and the Wolf Pack.
Arizona (7-5) vs. Nevada (7-5) at 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
Albuquerque, New Mexico
US PRESSWIREStefphon Jefferson is one of the most productive yet underappreciated RBs in the country.
• Carey vs. Jefferson: One of the best running back matchups this postseason will be between Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, who averages 146.4 rushing yards per game, and Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson, who averages 141.9 yards per game on the ground. The pair are Nos. 1 and 2 in the FBS in rushing yards, respectively. Carey didn't get a lot of Heisman Trophy love nationally, but another big day in a postseason showcase could definitely stay on the minds of some voters looking for possible 2013 contenders. Jefferson, meanwhile, was on my early-season non-BCS Heisman Watch list this fall because of his productivity in the Wolf Pack's offense.
• A lot of points will be scored: Be prepared for a lot of offense and very little defense in this first bowl game of the season. Arizona became must-see TV in Rich Rodriguez's debut season in Tucson, as the Wildcats ranked No. 7 in the nation in total offense at 521.8 yards per game. Besides Carey, dual-threat quarterback Matt Scott rushed for 485 yards and could have gained a lot more on the ground, but coaches wanted to limit his physical contact after he suffered a hip injury in the fourth game of the season at Oregon. However, he was banged-up even more later in the year, getting knocked out of the USC game and suffering a concussion against UCLA. He missed the game against Colorado, and he didn't seem to be the same down the stretch. Through the air, Scott completed 60.4 percent of his throws for 3,238 yards with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His best target has been sophomore receiver Austin Hill, who finished 12th in the country with 1,189 receiving yards. He was the receiver who had the eye-popping 10-catch, 259-yard effort in the victory over the Trojans in October. The 'Cats love to run, but Scott will be able to take advantge of Nevada's susceptible secondary. Meanwhile, Nevada is No. 11 in the country at 502.8 yards per game, and Jefferson paces the offensive attack. He owns the single-season school record with 22 rushing touchdowns. But dual-threat quarterback Cody Fajardo could be the player to watch on Saturday. The catalyst in the Pistol offense, Fajardo has 981 rushing yards and will give the Arizona defense problems because the Wildcats have struggled against dual-threat quarterbacks this season.
• Defense is not a priority: Both the Wildcats and the Wolf Pack don't have intimidating defenses, with both units ranking in the bottom 30 nationally in scoring. The one area that can doom Nevada is on third-down defense, as the Wolf Pack have allowed a 47.2 percent conversion rate. The other problem for the Wolf Pack is that they only have four interceptions on the season. Scott has had some rough games in a few of Arizona's losses, but can Nevada create enough mistakes? Whichever team can create an extra turnover or get that extra stop could come out on top in Albuquerque.
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