New Mexico Analysis: Arizona 49, Nevada 48
Posted Dec 16, 2012

The instant analysis and reaction to the 2012 Gildan New Mexico Bowl

- Follow us ... @ColFootballNews

- Gildan New Mexico Bowl Arizona 49, Nevada 48

Down 48-35 with 1:48 to play, Arizona came up with an improbable comeback to kick off the bowl season. Matt Scott took the offense 75 yards in just 1:02, capping off the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hill, who also caught a 62-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth. Down 48-42 with 46 seconds to play, the Wildcats attempted and recovered the onside kick. Three plays later, Scott found Tyler Slavin from two yards out with 19 seconds left for the win. It was the second big comeback of the day for the Wildcats, overcoming a 21-0 first quarter deficit with two touchdown runs from Ka'Deem Carey and a one-yarder from Scott. But Nevada grabbed the lead back with QB Cody Fajardo with his third touchdown pass of the day and a one-yard run for a 45-28 lead the defense couldn't hold. The two teams combined for 1,237 yards of total offense, but they also turned it over seven times.

Arizona: The Wildcats had the ball for just 20:50 and never had the lead until there are 19 seconds to play. … RB Ka'Deem Carey ran 28 times for 172 yards and three scores. … QB Matt Scott completed 28-of-47 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns with two picks, and he ran six times for 21 yards and a score. … WR Austin Hill caught eight passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. … Freshman LB C.J. Dozier came into the game with 12 tackles on the season. He came up with a game-leading 15 stops.

Nevada: QB Cody Fajardo completed 22-of-31 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns with two picks, and he ran 22 times for 140 yards and a score. … RB Stefphon Jefferson ran 34 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns, but he also fumbled. … LB Dray Bell led the team with nine tackles with a forced fumble. … The Wolf Pack outgained the Wildcats 403 yards to 196 on the ground and held on to the ball for 39:10.

By Rich Cirminiello

Matt Scott looks an awful lot like David Blaine. Heck, maybe that was Blaine magically leading Arizona back from a 13-point deficit with less than two minutes left in the New Mexico Bowl. If this game is any indication of what's to come, it's going to be an entertaining few weeks of bowl games.

Might Chris Ault be the most underrated head coach in college football? The guy is already in the Hall of Fame, has been an offensive innovator with his Pistol attack and has won well over 200 career games. Yet, very few college football fans even know his name or know that he's been at Nevada for most of his life.

Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson is a fantastic back. But he has to spend the offseason working on his fumbling issues, or else he's going to lose carries and the staff's confidence in 2013.

There aren't many junior colleges on the West Coast Rich Rodriguez and his staff won't be visiting during this recruiting cycle. Arizona desperately needs a quick-fix for a defense that just didn't have the bodies or the talent to compete against the Nevada attack.

On a day when that Wildcats D was at the mercy of the Nevada offense, its best hits came when teammates Tevin Hood and Cody Ippolito took a few swings at each other on the sidelines. The staff might be able to laugh off that embarrassing display now that Arizona pulled out a miraculous win.

He's not Colin Kaepernick, but Nevada QB Cody Fajardo might still earn national recognition in the second half of his career in Reno. He showed the country today that he's very tough, athletic and rapidly improving as a passer.

Considering RichRod's track record with the position, going back to his days with Steve Slaton in Morgantown, aren't you strongly considering Tucson if you're a big-time high school back? Junior Ka'Deem Carey will be a fringe Heisman contender next fall, but there's a good chance it'll be his last one as an amateur. While still young, Arizona WR Austin Hill already looks as if he's going to continue his career at the next level. Big hands, big frame and excellent balls skills. Don't be shocked if he's eyeing early entry into the NFL at this time next year.

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb

In a defensive struggle, the Arizona Wildcats clawed from behind to stun the Nevada Wolf Pack 49-48. Nearly 200 plays, 70 first downs, 1,234 yards of offense, 13 touchdowns and ~100 total points.

No truth to the rumor that the Gildan/Gilden (nicely done, ESPN) Bowl only allows nine defensive players on the field at any one time.

Once again, the prevent defense only prevents the team that uses it from winning.

Both teams did their very best to prevent anything resembling defense whatsoever from rearing its head in Albuquerque. But especially in the final two minutes...Nevada.

After dominating most of the second half, the Wolf Pack allowed Arizona to drive the length of the field with under two minutes to play, score, recover what was admittedly a great onside kick, and score the go ahead touchdown three plays later.

Nearly 200 offensive plays...hi-tempo indeed. Ironically, even with all the scoring, it was hard to call this an exciting game until the very end. It had more the feeling of a scrimmage. With no defense to keep them honest, both offenses started getting the tune of six turnovers.

That gagging noise you hear in the background is Alabama's Nick Saban trying not to vomit.

Nevada head coach Chris Ault is already in the college football Hall of Fame, and has done great things for the Wolf Pack. However, Nevada is now 1-6 in its last seven bowl games, and finish the 2012 season 7-6 after virtually choking away a game they had in their hip pocket.

Meanwhile, Rich Rodriguez's team never gave up, and now he'll be able to leverage this come from behind win all offseason, including down the stretch in his first complete recruiting class.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

- No, there aren't too many bowl games. Arizona's spirited fourth quarter comeback proves that there's no such thing as "a useless bowl game" to the players or the coaches.

- Matt Scott has what it takes to play at the next level. Sure, he wasn't exactly perfect today, but he came up big when it mattered most, going 7-for-7 on Arizona's last two drives. What pro team wouldn't someone who can execute the two-minute drill with that type of precision?

- Even though the Wildcats won the game, the question remains: what was Rich Rodriguez thinking when he punted the ball with just over six minutes to go? Yes, going for it on fourth-and-five deep in your own territory is a dicey proposition, but so is relying on a defense that hasn't made a stop all day long.

- On the other hand, Rodriguez deserves all the credit in the world for believing in his much-maligned unit, who ultimately did just enough to win the game.

- Don't let the final score fool you - there's a reason why Chris Ault is the only active coach in the College Football Hall of Fame. His pistol offense has revolutionized the game. In fact, it's been so successful that the Wildcats, who see a similar look in practice every day, had absolutely no answers for the Nevada offense - even when Stefphon Jefferson wasn't in the game.

- Watch out for Cody Fajardo as future Heisman Trophy candidate. Sure, the Wolfpack would need to bust the BCS before he could make it to New York, but considering how well he played against Arizona today, he'll definitely have the numbers to be in the conversation.