New Mexico Bowl, Nevada vs. Arizona, 1:00 p.m. eastern time, ESPN
College football will ease into bowl season on Saturday with a matchup between Nevada and Arizona. While the national implications are close to zero, a few NFL Draft prospects will be worth keeping an eye on in this one.
Nevada operates a high powered offense that carried the team to a 7-5 record this season. Meanwhile, Arizona experienced an offensive resurgence of its own under head coach Rich Rodriguez, finishing with a 7-5 record as well. Neither team plays much defense, so this should be a high scoring affair.
When Nevada has the football
Nevada's junior running back Stefphon Jefferson gets most of the attention for the Wolfpack on offense. He's help by two seniors up front, though, as Chris Baker and Jeffrey Nady pave the way for Jefferson up front. Arizona junior Marquis Flowers will be in charge of stifling the running game as he has done throughout the season.
Nevada's senior tight end Zach Sudfeld is worth keeping an eye on as well. He's tough to miss, standing in at 6-feet-7-inches tall.
When Arizona has the football
The Wildcats offense has been dynamic under new coach Rich Rodriguez. Senior quarterback Matt Scott is on the NFL radar. He projects as more of a career backup due to a lack of size and arm strength, but he's an accurate and mobile passer. Wide receiver Dan Buckner is his favorite target. Nevada safety Duke Williams presents a tough challenge, though. He was the only Nevada senior named to the Senior Bowl's preseason watch list.
In the ground game, fullback Taimi Tutogi is one of the best in this class, and he paves the way for the surprising underclassman, Ka'Deem Carey, who has piled up over 2,000 total yards and 21 touchdowns. The Wolfpack's best bet to slow down the Wildcat ground came comes from speedy outside backer Jeremiah Green.
Matchup of the night: Taimi Tutogi vs. Jeremiah Green
If Nevada has any shot at slowing down Arizona's running game, Jeremiah Green is going to have to shed blocks consistently and be able to roam sideline to sideline. Fullback Taimi Tutogi will be tasked with making sure that doesn't happen. Both players have NFL potential, so it will be an interesting matchup to watch.