College Football New Mexico Bowl Betting Preview: Nevada Wolf Pack vs Arizona Wildcats

2012 Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Nevada Wolf Pack vs Arizona Wildcats
Saturday, December 15, 2012, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
University Stadium – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Opening Line: Arizona -9
Current Line: Arizona -9 1/2
Opening Total: 76
Current Total: 75 1/2
Opening Money Line: Arizona -375 / Nevada +315
Current Money Line: Arizona -375 / Nevada +315

Arizona and Nevada kick off the 2012 Bowl Season in Albuquerque in the New Mexico Bowl. The Wildcats are 9.5 point favorites.

The 2012 bowl season gets underway Saturday in Albuquerque as the Nevada Wolf Pack of the Mountain West take on the Pac 12′s Arizona Wildcats in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Both teams finished the season 7-5.

Nevada is 4-8 all time in bowl games. The Wolf Pack have lost 5 of their last six bowl games, including 24-17 last year to Southern Miss in the Hawaii Bowl. This is the 8th straight year Nevada has played in a bowl game.  Arizona is 6-9-1 in bowl games all time. The Wildcats didn’t go to a bowl last year for the first time in five years.

Nevada and Arizona have only played 4 times in history, and they haven’t met since 1941. The series is tied 1-1-1. The Wolf Pack and Wildcats will play a home and home series in 2014 (Tucson) and 2015 (Reno).

Nevada is coached by Chris Ault. The Wolf Pack started off the season 6-1, but have lost 4 of their last 5 games. Nevada finished third in the Mountain West with a 4-4 record, but there was a three way tie for first between Boise St, San Diego St, and Fresno St who were all 7-1.  The Wolf Pack has home losses to South Florida 32-31, San Diego St 39-38 in overtime, Fresno St 52-36, and Boise St 27-21, along with a 48-31 loss at Air Force. Nevada has road wins over California 31-24, Hawaii 69-24, Texas St 34-21, UNLV 42-37, and New Mexico 31-24, along with home wins over Northwestern St 45-34, and Wyoming 35-28 in overtime. The Wolf Pack is 3-9 ATS and the total is 6-5 this season.

Nevada is averaging 502.8 yards per game on offense, including 242.8 passing and 260 rushing yards. The Wolf Pack are in the top 11 nationally in total offense and rushing. Nevada is outscoring teams 37-33 this season. the Wolf pack are #20 in scoring, but #96 in points allowed. The Wolf Pack are -3 in turnovers with 18 giveaways. Nevada averages 61.8 penalty yards per game and has allowed 18 sacks this season. Nevada is 109/202 on third and fourth down conversions and 54/66 scoring in the red zone with 47 touchdowns. On defense, Nevada is allowing 431.2 yards per game, including 218.3 passing yards and 212.9 rushing yards. Nevada is 89th out of 124 FBS teams and 112th in rush defense. The Wolf Pack have forced  18 sacks and 15 turnovers this season.

Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo has completed 224 of 336 passes (66.7%) for 2,530 yards with 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 168 carries, 981 yards and 11 touchdowns. Back-up Devin Combs saw significant action against Wyoming and started the UNLV game when Fajardo was injured. Combs has 384 passing yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception, along with 34 carries, 177 yards and a touchdown. Running back Stefphon Jefferson has 341 carries, 1,703 yards and 22 touchdowns along with 22 catches, 170 yards, and a touchdown. He is second in the country in rushing. Nick Hale has 40 carries, 229 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns, along with a receiving touchdown. Receiver Brandon Wimberly has 63 catches, 788 yards and 4 touchdowns. Richy Turner has 54 catches, 656 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Zach Sudfeld has 43 catches, 553 yards and 6 touchdowns. Aaron Bradley has 42 catches, 433 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Arizona finished 4-5 in the Pac 12 South under first year coach Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats have losses at Oregon 49-0, Stanford 54-48 in overtime and UCLA 66-10 along with  home losses to Oregon St 38-35 and Arizona St 41-34. Arizona has wins at home against Toledo 24-17 in overtime, Oklahoma St 59-38, South Carolina St 56-0, Washington 52-17, USC 39-36 and Colorado 56-31, and last week at Utah 34-24. Arizona is 6-6 ATS and the total is 8-3 this season.

Arizona is averaging 521.8 yards per game including 291.4 passing yards and 230.4 rushing yards. The Wildcats are in the top 30 in all offensive categories including scoring.  For the season, Arizona is outscoring opponents 37-34. Arizona has forced 23 turnovers, but has given up 25 turnovers to opponents. The Wildcats have allowed 18 sacks and average 57.8 penalty yards per game. Arizona is 85/191 on third and fourth down conversions, and 56/72 scoring in the red zone with 44 touchdowns. On defense, the Wildcats are allowing 485.7 yards per game, including 295.9 passing yards and 189.8 rushing yards. Arizona is 89th or worse in all defensive categories. The Wildcats have forced 16 sacks this season. Arizona opponents are 92/213 on third and fourth down conversions, and 46/56 scoring in the red zone, with 38 touchdowns. The Wildcats have 2 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Arizona quarterback Matt Scott has completed 273 of 452 passes (60.4%) for 3,238 yards with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He is also the second leading rusher for the ‘Cats with 107 carries, 485 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Running back Ka’Deem Carey has 275 carries, 1,757 yards, and 20 touchdowns, along with 33 catches for 288 yards with a touchdown. Carey leads the nation in rushing. Daniel Jenkins has 66 carries, 287 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 4 catches for 30 yards. Jared Baker and B.J. Denker each have a rushing touchdown, but only have a handful of carries this season. Receiver Austin Hill has 73 catches, 1,189 yards and 9 touchdowns. Dan Buckner has 59 catches, 741 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Buckner is probable with an ankle injury. Other than Carey, no other Wildcat has more than 24 catches, but 5 have at least 13. David Richards has 24 catches, 245 and 3 touchdowns. Richard Morrison, Garic Wharton and Terrence Miller each have two touchdown catches. Morrison also has a punt return for a touchdown. Miller is out for the season with a foot injury. Seven Wildcats are out indefinitely or for the season, and six more are questionable for Saturday’s game. The injured players include 8 defensive players and 3 offensive linemen.

Nevada is 3-0-1 ATS  in December, 2-8-1 in non-conference games, 1-4 on grass, 2-10-1 after rushing for more than 200 yards, 1-7-1 against teams with winning records, 1-7 overall, 0-4 after a straight up loss, 0-4-1 in bowl games, 0-3-1 after a cover, and in neutral site games.

Arizona is 6-13 ATS against teams with winning records, 9-21 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 2-5 after gaining more than 450 yards, 3-8 after allowing more than 40 points, and 1-4 against Mountain West teams.

Expect lots of scoring between two teams who average over 500 yards per game on offense and give up almost that much on defense. Other than South Florida, Nevada’s other losses are all to bowl teams. Neither Arizona nor Nevada has a win over a team with more than 7 wins. I like Nevada to keep it close and stay inside the 9.5 point number.

Our college football handicappers are red hot this season. Don’t miss out on any more winners from now until the BCS Championship game in January.

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