Kickoff: Saturday, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN) at University Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M.
Forecast: 48 degrees, partly cloudy
Spread: Arizona by 9.5
Watchability: Given the rather unique nature of both offenses, this could be one of those surprisingly exciting low-level bowl games. Rich Rodriguez and Chris Ault are two innovative offensive minds, and this could come down to who out-schemes whom.
Shining stars: Arizona -- QB Matt Scott. RichRod's one-year wonder will want to exit on a high note after injuries derailed the latter part of his year. If he can rediscover his magic, Nevada won't be able to stop the dual-threat quarterback. Scott finished with 24 passing touchdowns, and he should be able to add a few more against the Wolf Pack. Nevada --
Who could steal the show: Arizona -- WR Austin Hill. Hill has been a bit hit-or-miss this year, but when he's hit, he's smashed it out of the park. One of the top targets in the conference, Hill should feast on the Wolf Pack, if Scott looks his way enough. Nevada -- LB Albert Rosette. Named to the all-conference first team along with Jefferson, Rosette was the leader of the Wolf Pack defense. His 128 tackles led the team and were 28 more than any other teammate, and he added four tackles-for-loss, a sack and two forced fumbles.
Magic number for Arizona: 485.67. For all the offensive strides that the Wildcats have taken this season, they've been woeful at times on defense, as evidenced by almost 486 yards of total offense allowed per game. That number ranks 116th in FBS. Yikes.
Magic number for Nevada: 213.17. Like Arizona, the Wolf Pack are too unbalanced, with a great offense and a defense that allows more than 213 rushing yards per game. The nation's leading rusher, Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, could have that in the first half.
3 keys to an Arizona win
- Carey carries it over: The Arizona redshirt sophomore running back was out of this world this season, and we're not even sure where he landed. The nation's leading rusher put up a spacy 1,757 yards on the season, finishing the year with an absurd 742 yards in his last three games. The Wolf Pack are awful against the run, ranking 111th, so Carey should go off.
- Contain Cody Fajardo: Performing brilliantly in the Pistol offense, Fajardo has made Nevada fans forget about Colin Kaepernick the way Kaepernick has made San Francisco 49ers fans forget about Alex Smith. Fajardo was a second-team all-league pick as a sophomore after totaling more than 3,500 yards of total offense, including almost 1,000 on the ground. He knows his way around the corner, so the Wildcats must stay disciplined in their approach.
- Protect Scott: Scott was fantastic for Rodriguez early in the year, but his performance took a dive in the final third of the year. After his passer rating dropped below 130 just once in his first eight games -- a forgivable walloping by Oregon -- Scott was held below a 110 rating in his final three games. Worse, in his last two games, he completed less than 50 percent of his passes.
3 keys to a Nevada win
- Catch Arizona off guard: The biggest plus to the Pistol offense is the ability to freeze the defense. The Wildcats struggled against the zone-read at times this year, and Nevada executes it to near-perfection, causing the opposition to have to think too much. That's going to be the big challenge for Arizona -- staying gap-conscious and not biting at the wrong time -- but that's just what the Wolf Pack excel at.
- Limit Hill: Hill had a strange season. For a third of the games he was lights out, totaling 687 receiving yards; for a third of the games, he was good, with 310 yards; for a third of the games, he was ineffective, with 192 yards in four bad games. Nevada must make sure it gets the Hill that disappears instead of the Hill that looks like one of the top wideouts in college football.
- Score points: Obvious enough, huh? Nevada is a beast in terms of total offense, racking up more than 500 yards per game, but sometimes that doesn't translate into a boatload of points. The Wolf Pack have had some outstanding performances, but seven times they've been held under 35 points. They will need at least that against an Arizona offense that can strike at any time.
Prediction: Arizona 44, Nevada 38