Saturday Bowl Action
December 15, 2012
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NEVADA WOLF PACK (7-5) vs. ARIZONA WILDCATS (7-5)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Arizona -9 & 77
Opening Line & Total: Wildcats -10 & 75
The bowl season kicks off Saturday afternoon when Arizona and Nevada meet in Albuquerque for the New Mexico Bowl.
This game features the top two rushers in the nation with Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (146 rushing YPG) and Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson (142 rushing YPG). Both schools are averaging at least 37.0 PPG and 500 total YPG this year. The Wildcats are just 1-3 SU (2-2 ATS) in non-home games this season, getting outscored by an average of 48 to 23. Nevada is 5-1 SU (2-4 ATS) in non-home games, outscoring these teams by 10.0 PPG (39.7 PPG to 29.7 PPG). Arizona has lost its past two bowls by a combined score of 69 to 10, while the Wolf Pack is 0-4-1 ATS in bowls over the past five years. These teams appear to be too similar to expect a blowout either way. Both clubs playing high-scoring games due to great offenses and poor defenses. But the big difference is each team's performance away from home. While Nevada is 5-1 SU in non-games and allowing 29.7 PPG, Arizona is 1-3 SU outside of Tucson, allowing a ridiculous 48.2 PPG to these host teams.
Nevada QB Cody Fajardo ranks 11th in the nation in total offense (319 YPG), as he has totaled 2,530 passing yards and 17 TD, throwing just seven picks in 336 pass attempts. Fajardo has also run for 981 yards and 11 scores. But he was horrendous in last season's Hawaii Bowl defeat to Southern Miss, completing just 8-of-19 passes for 60 yards (3.2 YPA), 0 TD and 1 INT. Jefferson had just one carry in that 24-17 bowl loss, but he has gotten at least 19 rushing attempts in every game this season, totaling 341 carries (28.4 per game). This has resulted in 78+ yards in each contest and nine 100-yard games, including 267 yards (5.2 YPC) and 3 TD over the past two games. Jefferson is tied for second in the nation with 23 touchdowns, including six games with at least 2 TD runs. Defensively, this Wolf Pack team struggles in all facets this year, allowing 32.5 PPG and 431 total YPG. They have been especially hurt by opposing ground games, giving up the 12th-most rushing yards in the nation (213 YPG). Nevada's defense has not forced more than two turnovers in any game this season, compiling a pathetic five takeaways in the past six contests.
Arizona senior QB Matt Scott ranks seventh in the nation in total offense with 338 YPG, but he slumped towards the end of the year with just 514 passing yards (171 YPG, 5.6 YPA), 4 TD and 3 INT in his final three games, losing two of them. There has been no such slump for the nation's leading rusher though, as Carey has compiled 100-yard games in seven of his past eight contests, including a ridiculous 742 yards (9.8 YPC) and 7 TD over his final three games of the regular season. Arizona also has explosive wide receivers capable of huge games with Austin Hill (73 rec., 1,189 yds, 9 TD) and Dan Buckner (59 rec., 741 yds, 5 TD). The Wildcats defense has been atrocious all year, allowing 36+ points in seven of 12 games, and surrendering the fifth-most yards in the nation (486 total YPG). Arizona's minus-2 turnover margin this season has added to the defensive woes.
TOLEDO ROCKETS (9-3) vs. UTAH STATE AGGIES (10-2)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Utah State -10.5 & 58.5
Opening Line & Total: Aggies -10 & 57.5
Utah State tries to extend its long win streak this season with a rare bowl win, when it faces Toledo on the blue turf in Boise, ID Saturday for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Utah State brings a six-game win streak to Saturday's game to face an injury-riddled Toledo squad. Rockets starting QB Terrance Owens (foot) and RB David Fluellen (ankle) both missed their last games, but are both expected to start here. Toledo dropped two of its past three contests SU and three of four ATS. The Aggies played in this same bowl last year, losing 24-23 to Ohio to extend their bowl drought to 18 years (last win in 1993). But they are 10-1-1 ATS this season with the only non-cover being a 36-point win over 37.5-point underdog Idaho. This spread may seem a bit lofty for two teams separated by just one win, but the USU defense (15.4 PPG, 323 YPG) is far superior to Toledo's D (27.3 PPG, 463 YPG). In non-home games, the Rockets are surrendering 525 total yards per game and 7.0 yards per play.
Owens placed third in the MAC with 278 total YPG, finishing his season with 2,677 passing yards (8.0 YPC), 14 TD and 8 INT. He was outstanding in last year's Eagle Bank Bowl against Air Force, completing 19-of-24 passes for 210 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT in a 42-41 victory. All three of those touchdowns went to WR Bernard Reedy who has had an excellent junior season with 82 catches for 1,051 yards and 6 TD. He is also extremely dangerous in the return game with three touchdowns (2 kick return, 1 punt return) over his past seven games. Fluellen had just five carries (for 28 yards) in last year's bowl win, but he has been a workhorse this season with 20+ rushing attempts in 10 of his 11 games. He ranks eighth in the nation with 133 rushing yards per game, totaling 1,460 yards on 5.8 YPC with 13 TD. This Toledo offense piles up an impressive 456 total YPG, but the defense gives up even more (464 YPG, 109th in FBS). The biggest problem is defending the pass, where the Rockets' 296 passing YPG allowed are the fourth-most among the 123 FBS teams. Turnovers have also been an issue since October, as the Rockets have more giveaways (15) than takeaways (14) over this seven-game stretch.
Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton has produced a solid sophomore campaign, throwing for 3,144 yards (262 YPG), 27 TD and just 9 INT. Since a 6-3 loss at BYU, Keeton has thrown at least two touchdowns in all six of his games, totaling 16 TD in this stretch. He's also run for seven scores in these seven games. The main ball carrier for the Aggies is Kerwynn Williams, who leads the WAC with 106 rushing YPG. Williams has six 100-yard efforts in his past nine games, including three in a row. He rushed for 62 yards on just nine carries (6.9 YPC) in last year's Idaho Potato Bowl loss to Ohio, 24-23. Williams also leads USU in both catches (43) and receiving yards (663) and his five receiving touchdowns are tied for the team lead with three others. WR Matt Austin (652 rec yds, 5 TD), WR Chuck Jacobs (550 rec. yds) and TE Kellen Bartlett (261 rec. yd) are all seniors with five touchdown grabs each. Utah State's defense has been outstanding this season, ranking eighth in scoring (15.4 PPG) and 15th in yardage (323 YPG). The Aggies have held half of their opponents to 13 points or less, thanks in big part to an outstanding pass rush with 3.3 sacks per game (8th in FBS).
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