Stevens: Expect Arizona & Nevada To Be Offensive in Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Dec. 10, 2012

Gildan New Mexico Bowl Tickets: Tickets for the seventh annual Gildan New Mexico Bowl are on sale to the general public. There are three ticket options: $40 premium seats, $30 sideline seats, and $25 end zone seats. Tickets can be purchased at the University of New Mexico Ticket Office located in The Pit, online ( or by calling 925-LOBO or 925-5999.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl TICKETS

The Gildan-New Mexico Bowl - Saturday - University Stadium

Who/When: 11 a.m. (MT) -- Nevada vs. Arizona

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

If you want two outstanding reasons to attend to the 2012 Gildan-New Mexico Bowl, here they are:

1. The No. 1 rusher in the nation will be in Albuquerque Saturday for the 11 a.m., kickoff between Arizona and Nevada.
2. The No. 2 rusher in the nation will be on Branch Field, too.

Oh, heck, let's toss out a third super reason. The Arizona Wildcats paced by Ka'Deem Carey (1,756 yards) and the Nevada Wolf Pack paced by Stefphon Jefferson (1,703 yards) feature two of the top offensive teams in NCAA ball.

If offense and points are your thing, the first bowl out of the 2012-13 bowl gate -- by a couple of hours over the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl -- is the place to be.

Arizona averages 37.2 points and is No. 7 in the nation in total offense with a massive 521.83 yards per game. Nevada is no slouch averaging 37.0 points and is No. 11 in the nation pushing out 502.83 yards per game.

These numbers tell you something else, too. These teams do a whole lot of other things with the football than simply hand the leather to Carey and Jefferson. There will be weapons a-plenty Saturday on Branch Field.

Defense? Well, that isn't exactly a forte of 7-5 Arizona or 7-5 Nevada and that is one reason the Wildcats are not representing the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl and Nevada wasn't the first postseason pick out of the Mountain West.

Just check out these defensive numbers that bode well for the offensive minded:

Nevada is 86th in the nation allowing a whopping 431.17 yards per game. Arizona is 116 out of 120 teams bending at 485.67 yards per game.

To put the Wildcats' defensive woes into perspective, they are behind the NMSU Aggies (476.17) in giving up football geography. Of course, you also toss the foes into the light of perception.

But defense probably will be a huge key on Saturday. The first team to make a tackle might win. OK, we're kidding. But the team that forces a punt or two just might end up being the 2012 Gildan New Mexico Bowl champions.

Carey and Jefferson alone are probably worth the price of admission. Fans also will be looking at two prideful offensive lines.

Carey leads the nation with his 146.42 average and Jefferson is a step back with a 141.92 average. UNM's Kasey Carrier was No. 12 at 122.42. Carey has a more impressive average per carry at 6.39 to Jefferson's 4.99. Carey has 66 fewer totes.

What that means is Arizona leans a bit more to other offensive forces including quarterback Matt Scott, who despite injuries, tossed for 3,238 yards in 2012. The time off prior to the bowl should help Scott be closer to 100 percent for Nevada.

The Wolf Pack's Cody Fajardo tossed for 2,530 yards, but as Lobo fans know, Fajardo is a nasty runner. He had a career-high on the ground vs. New Mexico.

Arizona has a stud receiver in Austin Hill with 73 grabs for 1,189 yards - 16.3 per catch with nine scores. Hill had 259 receiving yards in Arizona's upset of Southern Cal. Nevada's top hands are owned by Brandon Wimberly with 63 receptions for 788 yards and four touchdowns.

Nevada finished the season on a bit of a slide after a 6-1 start and went 1-4 down the stretch with the lone win coming over New Mexico. Nevada beat California 31-24 to open the season, but Cal went 2-7 in league play and 3-9 overall. Down the stretch, Nevada gave up 37 points to UNLV, 39 to SDSU, 48 to Air Force and 52 to Fresno State.

Arizona finished stronger winning four of six, but gave up 41 points to ASU, 66 to UCLA, 49 to Oregon and 54 to Stanford. The `Cats probably had the tougher test with games vs. Oklahoma State, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon and USC. Arizona scored 48 in overtime against a tough Stanford defense.

At a pre-bowl press conference, the two coaches indicated that the affection of the fans in the stands might be a factor. Both Arizona's Rich Rodriguez and Nevada's Chris Ault made a pitch as to why New Mexico fans should back their team.

Nevada's argument might be the stronger of the two. Ault said the Wolf Pack and Lobos are the same creature - wolves. Better yet, the Wolf Pack carries the reputation of the Mountain West into this fray.

The Wolf Pack is looking to stay undefeated at 2-0 on Branch Field. In this game, the Lobo fans might actually be cheering for the Pack.