Arizona (7-5 Pac-12) vs. Nevada (7-5 Mountain West), 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Line: Arizona by 7 1-2.
Series Record: 1-1-1
WHAT’S AT STAKE:
The Wildcats are appearing in their fourth bowl game in five years and their first under new head coach Rich Rodriguez. Arizona opened the season with three victories, lost three straight to ranked opponents _ two in shootouts _ and had won four of five before falling to Arizona State in the season finale. This is a Pac-12 team’s first appearance in the New Mexico Bowl Game. The Wolf Pack is making its eight straight bowl appearance and its second trip to the New Mexico Bowl
Arizona’s offense is ranked seventh in the nation and Nevada’s is ranked 11th. Both programs also are among the best in the Football Bowl Subdivision in points scored _ and among the worst in points allowed. The nonstop no-huddle offense of Arizona, which Rodriguez helped innovate as a coach at other schools, can score points in a hurry. Neither defense is very good, so it’s pretty much about whichever offense performs better.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arizona: RB All-American Ka’Deem Carey is the nation’s leading rusher with 1,757 yards and is looking to become only the 16th player in NCAA history to reach 2,000 yards.
Nevada: RB Stefphon Jefferson is the nation’s second-leading rusher with 1,703 yards and needs 30 more to become Nevada’s single-season rushing leader. He also needs 9 yards to become the Mountain West’s single-season rushing leader. This is Nevada’s first season in the Mountain West.
FACTS & FIGURES
The two western programs haven’t met on the gridiron in more than seven decades … Nevada WR Brandon Wimberly has caught a pass in all 39 games of his career, which is the sixth-longest streak in the nation … Nevada head coach Chris Ault has served three stints as the Wolf Pack’s coach in 28 year … The schools begin a home-and-home series in 2014.