GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL
ARIZONA WILDCATS (6-6) vs. NEW MEXICO LOBOS (7-5)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT
Las Vegas Line: Arizona -8
Recent New Mexico Bowls have kicked off college football’s postseason in style, including Arizona’s last trip here in 2012. The Wildcats rallied from down 17 heading into the fourth quarter, and 13 in the final 1:48.
Scooby Wright’s return from various injuries that sidelined him much of the season couldn’t come at a better time. Arizona’s porous defense needs every edge it can get defending New Mexico’s option offense, which ranked No. 8 nationally in rushing yards per game at 246.6. Conversely, the Wildcats surrendered 188.5 yards per on the ground.
Assuming Wright’s pursuit is even a fraction as effective as in 2014, Arizona should have a fighting chance of slowing down the Lobos. While there isn’t any one player the Wildcats need to key in on — such is the soul of the option — running Jhurell Pressley is the most explosive of the regular ball-carriers.
He’ll get his yards, which could in turn be New Mexico’s best defense. A methodical, ball-control style keeping Arizona’s potentially explosive offense of the field is precisely the game plan Bob Davie and Bob DeBesse need to upset the Wildcats.
Quarterback Anu Solomon’s sophomore season was up-and-down, hamstrung by injury. With a month over to recover, however, the Solomon of 2014 could make an appearance. New Mexico struggled mightily against the pass all season, so expect Rich Rodriguez to give Solomon the green light to air it out.