Editor's note: Brian Edwards compiled a 56-35 record (62%) during the regular season, ranking him No. 1 on VI in winning percentage and second in money. Don't miss out on his first postseason selection for the Idaho Potato Bowl.
The bowl season will kick off Saturday with a pair of games. In Albuquerque at the New Mexico Bowl, Arizona and Nevada will collide in a battle of 7-5 squads. Then we’ll go the smurf turf where Utah St. will take on Toledo at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Let’s take a closer look at both of these contests.
**Nevada vs. Arizona**
--As of early Friday morning, most betting shops had Arizona (7-5 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) installed as a nine-point favorite with a total of 77 points. The ‘over/under’ has increased since opening at 74 ½. Gamblers can take the Wolf Pack to win outright for a plus-300 return (risk $100 to win $300).
--Nevada (7-5 SU, 3-9 ATS) has lost four of its last five games. Even worse, the Wolf Pack is an abysmal 1-7 ATS in its last eight times out. Chris Ault’s team ended a seven-game ATS slide by taking the cash in its regular-season finale, a 27-21 home loss to Boise St. as a 7 ½-point underdog.
--Nevada runs Ault’s Pistol offense that features the nation’s fourth-leading rusher, junior Stefphon Jefferson, who has rushed for 1,701 yards. Jefferson has rushed for 22 touchdowns and owns a 5.0 yards-per-carry average. He also has 22 catches for 170 yards and one TD.
--Nevada sophomore quarterback Cody Fajardo enjoyed another productive campaign getting it done with his running and throwing. Fajardo completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 2,530 yards with a 17/7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also rushed 981 yards and 11 TDs, averaging 5.8 YPC.
--Rich Rodriguez has to be pleased with the way his first season went in Tucson. Arizona posted wins over bowl-bound teams like Toledo, Oklahoma St., Washington and Southern Cal. Three of the Wildcats’ five losses were one-possession defeats. They dropped a 38-35 decision to Oregon St., lost 54-48 at Stanford in overtime and fell 41-34 to Arizona St. In the losses to Stanford and ASU, ‘Zona allowed double-digit leads in the second half to get away.
--Arizona is led by senior QB Matt Scott, who threw for 3,238 yards with a 24/12 TD-INT ratio. Scott ran for 485 yards and five TDs, averaging 4.5 YPC. Scott’s favorite target is sophomore wide receiver Austin Hill, who made 73 receptions for 1,189 yards and nine TDs.
--Arizona has the nation’s second-leading rusher in sophomore Ka’Deem Carey, who ran for 1,757 yards and 20 TDs during the regular season. Carey averaged 6.4 YPC and also made 33 receptions for 288 yards and one TD.
--Arizona went 1-2 ATS in three games as a single-digit ‘chalk’ this year.
--Nevada has been an underdog three times this year, compiling a 2-1 spread record. The Wolf Pack won one of those games outright, besting California 31-24 as a 12-point road underdog in its season opener.
--Nevada is bowling for the eighth consecutive season. Arizona is back in the postseason after a one-year absence. The Wildcats were blown out in their last two bowl appearances, losing 33-0 to Nebraska in the 2009 Holiday Bowl before falling 36-10 to Oklahoma St. in the 2010 Alamo Bowl.
--The ‘over’ is 8-3 overall for Arizona, 7-1 in its last eight games. As for Nevada, it has seen the ‘over’ go 6-5 overall.
--Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**Toledo vs. Utah St.**
--The MAC and the WAC will be represented in Saturday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, ID. Most books are listing Utah St. (10-2 SU, 10-1-1 ATS) as a 10 ½-point favorite with a total of 58 ½. The Rockets are plus-325 on the money line (risk $100 to win $325).
--Gary Andersen’s team nearly pulled off an unblemished season for our purposes, but it failed to cover for the first time in a 45-9 win over Idaho as a 37-point ‘chalk’ in the regular-season finale.
--Utah St. is led by dynamic sophomore QB Chuckie Keeton, who has brought this program back to respectability after it failed to go to the postseason from 1998-2010. Keeton completed 67.3 percent of his passes this year for 3,142 yards with a 27/9 TD-INT ratio. He ran for 539 yards and seven TDs. For his career, Keeton has a 38/11 TD-INT ratio with nine rushing scores.
--Utah St. RB Kerwynn Williams has run for 1,277 yards and 12 TDs, averaging 6.4 YPC. Williams also led the Aggies in receiving with 43 catches for 663 yards and five TDs.
--Utah St. is ranked eighth in the country in scoring defense, giving up 15.4 PPG.
--Toledo (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) raced out to an 8-1 record, only to lose a pair of tight games in its last three contests. The Rockets recovered to win their regular-season finale, although they failed to cover the number in a 35-23 win over Akron as 17 ½-point home favorites. Austin Dantin, a product of Tallahassee Leon High, threw a career-high five TD passes while subbing for starting QB Terrance Owens.
--Owens, an athletic six-foot four-inch junior, and junior RB David Fluellen are the catalysts for Toledo. Owens has a 45/16 career TD-INT ratio. He threw for 2,681 yards and rushed for 381 yards this season. Fluellen rushed for 1,456 yards and 13 TDs with a 5.8 YPC average.
--Utah St. went 5-1-1 ATS in seven games as a double-digit favorite. Meanwhile, Toledo posted a 5-0 spread record as an underdog with three outright victories.
--The ‘under’ cashed at an 8-3 overall clip for both schools this season. The ‘under’ has hit in five straight for Toledo.
--Toledo is in a bowl game for the third consecutive year. The Rockets have locked up in a pair of nail-biters the last two years. They lost a 34-32 decision to FIU in the 2010 Little Caesar’s Bowl but beat Air Force 42-41 in the 2011 Military Bowl.
--Utah St. hasn’t enjoyed much success at Bronco Stadium. The Aggies let a lead get away in the final minute of this bowl game last year, falling to Ohio by a 24-23 score as two-point favorites. Two seasons ago, Boise St. trounced Utah St. 50-14 and the Broncos thumped the Aggies 49-14 in 2008. Finally, the Aggies also lost to Cincinnati in the 1997 Humanitarian Bowl at this same venue.
--Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
For daily sports gambling analysis, follow Brian Edwards on twitter at Vegasbedwards.