2015 Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Arizona Wildcats vs New Mexico Lobos
University Stadium – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Saturday, December 19, 2015, 2:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Arizona -10
Current Line: Arizona -8
Opening Total: 68
Current Total: 65
Opening Money Line: Arizona -360 / New Mexico +295
Current Money Line: Arizona -340 / New Mexico +280
The 2015 Bowl season gets underway Saturday with a border battle of teams from the Southwest. The 6-6 Arizona Wildcats travel to Albuquerque to take on the 7-5 New Mexico Lobos Saturday. Although the New Mexico Bowl is played in the home stadium of the Lobos, this is considered a neutral site game as are all post-season games.
Arizona is 8-10-1 in bowl games and is playing in a bowl for the fourth straight season. The Wildcats lost to Boise State 38-30 in the Fiesta Bowl last season. Arizona beat Nevada 49-48 in the 2012 edition of the New Mexico Bowl. New Mexico is 3-7-1 in bowl games. The Lobos return to a bowl for the first time since making back to back appearances in this bowl in 2006 and 2007. New Mexico beat Nevada in the 2007 New Mexico Bowl to snap a five game losing streak in bowls.
Arizona leads the series 43-20-3 against New Mexico, including 22-9-2 in Albuquerque. The teams played annually from 1938 to 1977, but have only played five times since then. New Mexico swept a home and home in 2007 and 2008 in the last games between the teams. Arizona won the only other post-season match-up in the 1997 Insight Bowl in Tucson.
Arizona is coached by Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats have home wins over UTSA 42-32, Northern Arizona 77-13, Oregon State 44-17, and last week against Utah 37-30, along with road wins at Nevada 44-20 and Colorado 38-31. Arizona has home losses to UCLA 56-30 and Washington State 45-42, along with road losses at Stanford 55-17, Washington 49-3, USC 38-30 and Arizona State 52-37 in the regular season finale.
Arizona was a 6 point underdog against rival Arizona State and the total was 66.5. The Sun Devils took a 31-10 lead into halftime. Arizona pulled within 8 points twice in the second half including 38-30 with 6:50 left. However, the Wildcats would throw pick sixes on two straight possessions ending any hopes of a comeback. Arizona added a late meaningless touchdown to make the final margin 15 points. The teams combined for over 1,000 total yards, but also five turnovers. The Wildcats also scored on a pick six. Arizona is 6-6 ATS and the total is 9-3 this season.
New Mexico is coached by former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie. The Lobos have home wins over Mississippi Valley State 66-0, New Mexico State 38-29, Hawaii 28-27, Utah State 14-13, and Air Force 47-35 in the regular season finale, plus road wins at Wyoming 38-28 and Boise State 31-24. New Mexico has home losses to Tulsa 40-21 and Colorado State 28-21, along with road losses at Arizona State 34-10, Nevada 34-17, and San Jose State 31-21.
New Mexico was an 11 point underdog against Air Force and the total was 53.5. The Lobos would take a 31-14 lead into halftime. UNM would expand the lead to 34-14 early in the third. The Falcons would pull to within 34-28 early in the fourth. New Mexico scored to make it 40-28 but missed the two point conversion. Air Force pulled within 40-35 with 3:08 left. New Mexico recovered the onside kick and after a personal foul they took over at the Air Force 13. The Lobos scored on the next play to seal the upset. The Falcons had three turnovers to just one for the Lobos. New Mexico had over 500 total yards to 389 for Air Force. UNM is 6-6 ATS and the total is 5-7 this season.
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Arizona is outscoring teams 37-36 this season. The Wildcats are #19 in scoring and #106 in points allowed nationally. Arizona averages 494 yards per game on offense, including 267 passing and 227 rushing yards. The Wildcats are #32 or better in all three categories nationally. On defense, Arizona is allowing 463 total yards including 275 passing and 189 rushing. The Wildcats are #89 in rush defense, #116 in pass defense and #114 in total defense. Arizona has forced 13 turnovers and has 18 of their own. The Wildcats average 50 penalty yards per game and opponents average 69 yards per game. Arizona is 84/205 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 94/205. The Wildcats have forced 25 sacks and allowed 30 this season. Arizona is 50/60 scoring in the red zone with 38 touchdowns and opponents are 50/53 with 39 touchdowns. The Wildcats have three defensive touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown, and have allowed two defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Anu Solomon has completed 62.7% of his passes for 2,338 yards with 18 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also rushed for 186 yards on 61 carries with 2 touchdowns. He left the Utah game with a concussion and missed the Arizona State game. He is probable. Back-up quarterback Jarrard Randall has thrown for 518 yards with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and also has 78 carries for 702 yards and 5 touchdowns. Brandon Dawkins split the snaps with Randall against ASU. He has thrown for 338 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and has 179 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.
Running back Nick Wilson has 133 carries for 725 yards and 8 touchdowns, plus 4 catches for 52 yards. He is out with an undisclosed injury. Jared Baker has 119 carries for 691 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 11 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Orlando Bradford has 36 carries for 147 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Receiver Cayleb Jones has 51 catches for 722 yards and 4 touchdowns. Johnny Jackson has 50 catches for 612 yards and 5 touchdowns. Nate Phillips has 41 catches for 546 yards with 4 touchdowns. David Richards has 41 catches for 514 yards and 5 touchdowns. Samajie Grant has 30 catches for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is probable with a concussion.
Four linebackers are listed on the injury report. Star linebacker Scooby Wright III is listed as probable after missing all but two games with a foot injury.
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New Mexico is outscoring teams 29-27 this season. The Lobos average 379 yards per game on offense including 249 rushing and 130 passing yards. New Mexico is #8 in rushing but #123 in passing nationally. On defense, the Lobos allow 432 yards per game including 238 passing and 194 rushing yards. UNM is #87 or worse in all three categories. New Mexico has forced 23 turnovers and has 18 of their own. The Lobos average 61 penalty yards per game and opponents average 42 per game. New Mexico is 74/184 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 87/207. The Lobos have forced 29 sacks and have allowed 11 this season. New Mexico is 29/38 scoring in the red zone with 23 touchdowns, and opponents are 30/44 with 18 touchdowns. The Lobos have a pick six and a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Lamar Jordan and Austin Apodeca split the snaps at quarterback. Jordan has thrown for 935 yards with 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 126 carries for 672 yards and 6 touchdowns. Apodeca has thrown for 644 yards with a touchdown and 5 interceptions and has 30 carries for 48 yards.
Jhurell Pressley has 135 carries for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns. Teriyon Gipson has 132 carries for 766 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 14 catches for 158 yards. Richard McQuarley has 44 catches for 207 yards and 7 touchdowns. Daryl Chestnut and Tyrone Owens have combined for five rushing touchdowns.
Receiver Dameon Gamblin has 33 catches for 397 yards and 2 touchdowns. Reece White has 13 catches for 257 yards. Delane Hart-Johnson has 10 catches for 235 yards and a touchdown. Carlos Wiggins has 12 catches for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Arizona is 6-14 ATS on grass, 17-42 after allowing more than 280 passing yards, 1-4 in bowl games, 1-5 in neutral site games, 1-6 in December, and after passing for 280 yards or more.
New Mexico is 9-4 ATS after allowing more than 200 rushing yards, 11-5 after passing for less than 170 yards, 9-19 in non-conference games, 4-13 after scoring more than 40 points, 1-5 after a straight up win, and 0-4 after allowing less than 170 passing yards.
New Mexico is certainly healthier than Arizona. Motivation could also be an issue for the Wildcats after playing in the Fiesta Bowl last year and a disappointing six win season. This should be a high scoring game as both defenses struggle. I think New Mexico wins in a close shootout.