Rich Rodriguez knows what it's like to watch everything crumble all around him while everyone scrambles to save their sweatshirts (Gildan commercial reference). This did not happen in the New Mexico Bowl, where his Wildcats scratched back from 17 down with 17 minutes left and two touchdowns down with two minutes left to beat Nevada, 49-48.
Despite Arizona's offense putting up 571 yards, Chris Ault's Nevada offense gained 657. The Wolf Pack set a new bowl record for first downs, with 40, and for a while the game was on course to set a new combined bowl yardage record. Also, Arizona players were seen fighting each other on the sideline at one point. And yet Arizona made the plays that mattered most. These things happen.
The national rushing yardage crown was sort of at stake, with Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson ranking No. 1 and 2 in yards per game. Jefferson outgained his counterpart, 183 to 172, but that wouldn't be enough to deprive Carey of the title. (NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch holds the total rushing yardage lead, but also had an extra game.)
Either Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo or Arizona quarterback Matt Scott gets the game ball, with each putting up 395 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. (Fajardo did this despite suffering finger and knee injuries during the game and taking a pair of blows to the head, but his team also lost.)
Rodriguez finishes his first Arizona year at a very impressive 8-5, with Carey among those set to return next year, while 7-6 Nevada has an offseason to think about this one.
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