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2012 Gildan New Mexico - Nevada vs. Arizona

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 14, 2012


2012-2013 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2012 Gildan New Mexico

2012 Gildan New Mexico

Arizona 49, Nevada 48

- CFN Analysis: Arizona stuns Nevada in the final moments

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central 
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National Rankings
A   N
7th Total Offense 11th
116th Total Defense 87th
17th Scoring Offense 20th
101st Scoring Defense 94th
15th Rushing Offense 7th
88th Run Defense 111th
29th Passing Offense 53rd
116th Passing Defense 43rd
68th Turnover Margin 74th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
A   N
4 Quarterbacks 4
5 RBs 5
3.5 Receivers 3
4 O Line 4
2 D Line 2
2.5 Linebackers 2
2 Secondary 3
3 Spec Teams 2.5
4 Coaching 4
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - In charge nearly the entire way, Duke Williams and Nevada let the New Mexico Bowl spin out of control at the end.

Matt Scott threw two short touchdown passes in the final 46 seconds and college football's postseason started with a wild one when Arizona recovered a late onside kick and rallied past the Wolf Pack 49-48 Saturday.

Nevada led 21-0 in the first quarter and was ahead 45-28 entering the fourth period. The Wolf Pack (7-6) had a chance to seal the win, but a hard-spinning kick bounced off Williams' chest and was covered by Arizona's Marquis Flowers.

Scott then tossed a 2-yard TD pass to Tyler Slavin with 19 seconds left.

``You come down to the last 2 minutes or whatever it was and we don't make a play,'' Nevada coach Chris Ault said. ``It happened. It's reality.''

``You look at that and you feel, I'm just sick for those seniors. There's no question about it. I'm sick for this whole football team. We had an opportunity to win a football game and we didn't,'' he said.

Nevada led 48-35 with 1:48 left after Allen Hardison made a 25-yard field goal.

Arizona (8-5) quickly scored a touchdown, setting up the onside try. Wildcats kicker John Bonano grounded it fast at Williams.

Earlier, Williams made an interception at the Wolf Pack 8. This time, no such luck.

``The ball bounced 2 feet away from me,'' he said. ``It was coming hot. I just figured I'd make the play and when it counted, I wasn't able to make it. It was coming hot. The ball was coming real fast. Two feet away from me, it bounced up, popped up and bounced off my shoulder pad.''

Arizona was still 51 yards away from the end zone without a timeout, Wolf Pack linebacker Albert Rosette pointed out.

``If we recover it, the game is over,'' he said. ``They got it, but they still have to go down and score a touchdown. They don't have any timeouts. The game is not over. We can still keep them out of the end zone. It's not like they can kick a field goal. It's hard to see them recover, but it wasn't the game.''

Matt Scott hit Garic Wharton for 28 yards and Austin Hill for 21 yards. The Wildcats completed the improbable comeback with Scott's short throw to Slavin.

``They scored 14 points in less than 2 minutes,'' Rosette said. ``I don't know. I'm still in shock right now. We made some mistakes there at the end. We still felt we were in it. We still felt that we were going to win that game and to lose like that, it hurts.''

Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo finished with 256 yards passing and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 140 yards and another score.

Wolf Pack running back Stefphon Jefferson gained 180 yards and scored twice.

Two of Fajardo's scoring tosses went to tight end Zach Sudfeld, both in the first half as Nevada took a big lead.

Arizona came back behind running back Ka'Deem Carey, who finished with 172 yards and three touchdowns. Scott threw for 382 yards and three scores and also ran for one.

``It was an unbelievable game,'' Sudfeld said. ``Just the momentum swings back and forth. Just big swings on both sides. It was a crazy game to play in.''

PREVIEW

Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)
Dec. 15, 1:00, ESPN

Here’s The Deal … Nevada and Arizona in Albuquerque. The New Mexico Bowl has created a matchup flush with interesting storylines to kick off the postseason.

Reno and Tucson might be separated by approximately 863 miles of highway, but their states are adjacent to one another, making Saturday’s game a de facto border war; one that hasn’t been fought since 1941. Both programs can also put up points in a hurry, led by the nation’s top two rushers, Wildcat sophomore Ka’Deem Carey and Wolf Pack junior Stefphon Jefferson.

Arizona will need to shake off its last game, a tough home loss to rival Arizona State in which it collapsed in the final quarter. Still, when the program looks at the totality of its 2012 season, it’ll have to be pleased with the progress. First-year coach Rich Rodriguez got his system installed faster than expected, and bowl-eligibility goes down as an achievement after winning just four games in 2011. There were notable wins over Oklahoma State, Washington and USC, all of which indicates a bright future under the new regime. The New Mexico Bowl, though, is a key game for a program pining for momentum, and looking to avoid a season-ending losing streak.

If Nevada is going to get out of University Stadium with a win, it’ll have to snap a couple of trends. It’s lost four of its last five games. And five bowl games in the last seven years. After starting strong in its Mountain West debut, including an upset at Cal of the Pac-12, the Wolf Pack went into a tailspin once the level of competition improved. The team was close, but couldn’t get over the hump against the likes of San Diego State and Boise State. Another crack at a Pac-12 team gives Chris Ault’s team a chance to alter the tenor of its offseason.

Players to Watch: The battle between Carey and Jefferson, who’ll jockey for the national rushing title, will take center stage. And it should. Both backs are special. However, the quarterbacks are no slouches either. Matt Scott has been the perfect one-year placeholder in RichRod’s system, bringing veteran leadership and almost 4,000 total yards of production to the position. Nevada will counter with Cody Fajardo, an explosive runner who’s still developing as a passer in Ault’s Pistol system.

Both have defenses have been rotten all year. And both will have to contend with dangerous weapons in the passing game. Big and dangerous weapons in the passing game.

The Cats can create matchup problems with 6-3, 211-pound Austin Hill and 6-4, 215-pound Dan Buckner, who’ve combined for 14 touchdown receptions. Hill, in particular has exploded on to the scene in his second year. Fajardo’s targets include a couple of All-Mountain West performers, 6-3, 215-pound Brandon Wimberly and 6-7, 255-pound TE Zach Sudfeld. With Carey and Jefferson garnering so much attention, Scott and Fajardo are guaranteed of clean looks at their well-sized pass-catchers.

Who is going to make a play on defense? In a game that’ll be dominated by the attacks, the outcome could very well hinge on a timely stop or takeaway.

Both defenses are built more on speed than on size, attacking from the second and third levels when possible. Nevada boasts the more productive ends, underclassmen Brock Hekking and Lenny Jones, but will lean on the playmaking ability of a pair of seniors, tone-setting LB Albert Rosette and ball-hawking SS Duke Williams. The Cats have had major issues making plays behind the line, getting minimal help from the front three. Out of the back eight, though, linebackers Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers, Spur Tra’Mayne Bondurant and Bandit Jared Tevis can cover a lot, a must to slow down the Pack ground game.

Nevada will win if … the defense can get off the field on third downs.

This is an area that killed the Wolf Pack throughout the season, but especially in the second half of the year. It ranks 110th nationally in third down D, a harrowing statistic with high-powered Arizona up next. Nevada doesn’t win games with defense. In fact, it didn’t win a game in 2012 when it scored fewer than 31 points. However, it will still be up to Mike Bradeson’s kids to force at least five or six Kyle Dugandzic punts. When Dugandzic is busy, it’s often a very encouraging sign for the opposing team.

Arizona will win if … Scott gets time to throw.

Hey, wait, this is Carey’s offense, right? Yup, but that doesn’t that the Wildcats don’t crave balance. In fact, when they achieve, they’re virtually unstoppable. Hekking and Jones can be feisty, and have exciting futures with the Pack. However, when the ends aren’t disrupting quarterbacks, the secondary is toast. Nevada’s touchdown-to-pick ratio on defense is a staggering 6:1, with its last interception coming on Oct. 13. Given time, Scott will dissect the D, making the kinds of downfield connections that provide Carey with even wider running lanes.

What Will Happen: If the New Mexico Bowl becomes a microcosm for the postseason … it’s going to be a fun postseason.

Both programs will have few problems getting up and down the field, stretching it vertically and horizontally. The points will come fast, while the defenses struggle to catch their breath in the thin air of Albuquerque. Carey and Jefferson will put on shows, piling up big numbers versus soft run defenses. The difference will come from the Arizona passing attack, which has more playmakers and a higher level of consistency than Nevada’s. It’s that balance and potency through the air that’ll help the Cats pull away, closing Rodriguez’s debut season in the desert on a positive note.

CFN Prediction: Arizona 44 … Nevada 32

ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Arizona -9.5  O/U: 75

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New Mexico Bowl History
2011 Temple, 37, Wyoming 15
2010 BYU 52, UTEP 24
2009 Wyoming 35, Fresno State 28 2OT
2008 Col St 40, Fresno St 35
2007 New Mexico 23, Nevada 0
2006 SJSU 20, New Mexico 12