Arizona 49 Nevada 48 Gildan New Mexico BowlWhat a way to open up the bowl season. I hope all of the games are like this one. When this game started off it reminded me of the Baylor-Washington bowl game from last year. There was very little defense played. Both coaches are known for being innovators on offense. Rich Rodriguez was a pioneer of the no-huddle run-oriented version of the spread offense. Chris Ault, already in the college football hall of fame, invented the “Pistol” formation. Neither, Ault or Rodriguez is known as a defensive genius.
Nevada started out scoring three times in the first half of the first quarter and quickly grabbed a 21-0 lead. Arizona bounced back with 21 straight points. At halftime Nevada already had 25 first downs and held a 31-28 lead. Two Arizona defensive players got into a fight on the sidelines in the first half. DT Devin Hood landed a good shot to reserve LB Cody Ippolito. You have to think Rich Rod was wishing his defense could hit the Wolfpack offense as hard as they were hitting each other.
The Wolfpack should have never lost this game. In the third quarter they took command of the game by shutting down the Arizona offense. Nevada had a 45-28 lead going into the fourth. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Wildcats QB Matt Scott hit star sophomore receiver Austin Hill on a 63 yard touchdown strike. Nevada would have put the game away but their QB Cody Fajardo got banged up and had to miss a series because of injury. On their next possession, their star RB Stefphon Jefferson fumbled away a chance to take valuable time off of the clock.
Scott hit Hill again with a minute to go to bring Arizona within six points. Arizona then recovered the on-side kick. Three plays later Scott hit Terrance Miller from two yards out for the winning score.
The teams combined for 1,237 yards. That’s the second most of any bowl game. The leading rusher in the nation, the Wildcats Ka’Deem Carey gained 172 yards. The second leading rusher in the nation, the Wolfpack’s Jefferson had 180 yards. Scott threw for 382 yards and Fajardo tossed for 256 yards. Both QB’s threw three touchdowns and two picks.
This shouldn’t have been a shock the way the game played out because Arizona came in with the 103rd scoring defense and Nevada’s defense was only slightly better ranked 95th.
Utah State 41 Toledo 15 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
A sign of things to come for Toledo was on the opening kick-off when they lost their best defensive player Dan Molls to a concussion. Molls came into the game as the nation’s leading tackler. Things only got worse a little later when they lost RB David Fluellen to an ankle injury. Without their best offensive and defensive player it was going to be an uphill battle against the strong Aggies team.
Utah State got a huge game from running back Kerwynn Williams. Williams ran for 235 yards and three touchdowns. This was an historic year for Utah State football. They won their most games in school history and won their first bowl game since 1993.
Toledo fought hard in the game and this game could have been closer. Toledo had five trips inside the red zone but they were only able to come away with three field goals in those five trips. This game was only 13-9 half way through the fourth quarter. Then Williams scored three touchdowns in a matter of 3 minutes and 16 seconds and the game was history. The Aggies rolled up 582 yards off offense on the day.
I was watching the Butler-Indiana basketball game as well as the end of the Arizona comeback against Nevada. It struck me that at this time of year when coaches are leaving programs left and right even in the middle of dinner like Tommy Tuberville. Isn’t it nice to have guys like Brad Stevens, Chris Peterson and Mark Few still around.
Loyalty is a thing of the past in this world. That comes from both sides. Employers have no loyalty to employees and employees have no loyalty to employers. Brett Bielema leaves Wisconsin for Arkansas and we’re really shocked. On the other hand Florida International fires Mario Cristobal and wasn’t it just a year ago he was one of the hot new upcoming coaches. Somehow Stevens at Butler, Peterson at Boise State and Few at Gonzaga have been able to stay happy at their programs and their universities loyal to them as well. Those are three guys I think I will continue to root for.