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NCAA Football: Get Ready for Bowling Season with Saturday’s Games

With a slate of 35 NCAA bowl games this year, the first ones are set to kick off this Saturday. Some are familiar and traditional bowls while others may have you scratching your heads at the teams and level of play.

Two games on Saturday afternoon begin with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl with Nevada (7-5, 4-4) vs. Arizona (7-5, 4-5), followed by the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl with a Toledo (9-3,6-2) vs. #22 Utah St. (10-2, 6-0) matchup.

All the team have strong offenses and should bring lots of scoring.

New Mexico Bowl

Arizona QB Matt Scott

Under the direction of new coach Rich Rodriguez and senior quarterback Matt Scott, Arizona quickly jumped out with three wins including a 59-38 victory over then #18 Oklahoma State. But once conference play started, Arizona got a reality check and lost three consecutive games, including a rout by Oregon.

Their greatest conference win came against then #9 USC 39-36.

Scott thrived in Rich Rod’s offense and sits at No. 3 in the Pac-12 with his 3,238 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 picks.

One of Scott’s favorite weapons is sophomore wide receiver Austin Hill, who sits as No. 12 in the FBS with his 1,189 yards, 73 catches and nine touchdowns.

On the ground, he has sophomore Ka’Deem Carey with 275 carries for a school-record 1,757 yards (FBS best at 146.4 yard average) and 20 touchdowns.

Carey could have a good game against Nevada as they are a FBS 13th-worst vs. the run, allowing 213.2 yards per game.

But Arizona’s defense is nothing to write home about: it ranks at No. 103 in scoring defense with 34.3 points per game and No. 5 worst for total defense with a 485.7 yards average allowed.

As for the Wolf Pack, it started the season 6-1 but ended at 7-5.

They have quarterback sophomore Cody Fajardo who is a dual threat: under the pistol offense he’s run for 981 yards (No. 6 among FBS quarterbacks) and 2,530 passing yards with 28 total touchdowns (17 passing, 11 rushing).

His favorite target is running back Stefphon Jefferson. He’s right behind Carey with his 141.9 rushing yards and 1,703 total. He is 30 yards short of breaking a Nevada record but already has the one for his 22 rushing touchdowns.

Look for a high-scoring game with these offenses and a win going to Arizona (-9.5 with a 75 over/under).

Potato Bowl

Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton

Utah State will enter Saturday’s bowl on a six-game win steak and an opportunity for redemption after last year’s Potato Bowl loss. Leading by 13 over Ohio in the third quarter, the Aggies imploded and lost 24-23 on a late touchdown with 13 seconds remaining.

Aggies sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton can run and amassed 527 yards and seven touchdowns while he still finished as the FBS’ 13th-ranked passer. He had 3,144 passing yards (67.7 percent completion), 27 touchdowns and nine picks.

His weapons of choice includes his wide receiver Matt Austin (a career-high 42 receptions and 652 yards) and running back Kerwynn Williams (1,277 yards running along with 663 reception yards and five touchdowns).

The Aggies will also bring a strong defense and sit at the top nationally with 39 sacks, 15.4 points allowed per game and 322.7 yards per game for total defense.

Toledo has junior quarterback Terrance Owens, who has a career-high 2,677 yards and 381 yards on the ground. He did miss the last regular-season game but had senior backup Austin Dantin take over at 29 for 35, 327 yards and five touchdowns against Akron.

The Aggies will need to keep an eye on Rockets wide receiver junior Bernard Reedy; he sits among the nation’s best with his 82 receptions for 1,051 yards and six scores.

There’s also running back  David Fluellen, who is No. 12 nationally with his 1,460 rushing yards. He was out for the Nov. 20 game against Akron (ankle) and may return on Saturday.

While the team has a strong offense, the Rockets won’t bring a strong defense. They have given up a 30.4 point average through their final seven games and sit at the bottom of the FBS (No. 108) with total defense (464.1 yards per game).

Sorry Rockets, this is Utah State’s year to win the Potato Bowl (-10 with 58 over/under).


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