Christmas Break is sadly over and it's time to turn our attention to Fiesta Bowl part 3 (Bear Down). The OBNUG editorial staff was unable to make the trek to Glendale with our OBNUG handcarts, but we have been paying attention. Below are some things you might want to know about the tantalizingly close matchup.
How do I watch the game?
Fiestas uno y dos were both watchable on FOX...but numero tres will require basic cable. Just like most everything else, the so-called "NY6" bowls have been absorbed by the behemoth that is ESPN. So in the interest of being redundant...
2:00pm —wait, 2 o'clock? Like "middle of the workday 2 o'clock?" And we complained about 8pm kickoffs.
Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman and Todd McShay (hooray for in-game mock-drafting!)
Unless you hadn't heard, the Broncos will be taking on the Arizona Wildcats of the Pac-12 on Wednesday afternoon. The 10-3 Wildcats are trying to put a nice little bow on their best season since 1998 and are already the only team to defeat the #2 Oregon Ducks. By the way, the 12-1 1998 Arizona team was coached by one Dick Tomey...remember that loveable rascal?
We're basically looking at a classic spread offense here...one that has been run to great effect this season by freshman QB Anu Solomon (and if you're giggling at the first 4 letters of his name, you're not the only one). Solomon has tossed 27 TDs this year against just 7 INTs and is a moderate run threat. Another frosh, running back Nick Wilson, has had an excellent year; averaging 5.9 yards/carry and piling up 15 TDs on the ground. As you can see below, Wilson is a nifty back who we'd do well to form tackle.
Okay, so stop the run game and we're gold, right? HANG ON JUST ONE SECOND...Anu Solomon has receiving targets as well, and one in particular seems just the type to give our DBs night sweats. I'm talking, of course, about Cayleb Jones—the sophomore receiver for the Wildcats. Jones is 6'3" 215 lbs and flirted with a 1,000 yard season in 2014 (902 to be exact). The second half of Jones' year was not as fruitful as the first half, but he's still averaging nearly 14 yards/reception and is an imminent scoring threat. Samajie Grant is another WR that Solomon will look to if we manage to put the clamps on Jones. Grant isn't nearly as big as Jones, but Oh, the YAC-manity
Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news? Let's just use the band-aid approach and get the bad over with. The Wildcats defense will be led by the best defensive player in the country—and if you don't believe me, the Bronko Nagurski, Chuck Bednarik and Lombardi Trophies would like to have a word. Scooby Wright—a true-sophomore—has racked up an insane 153 tackles this season, with 27 of them for loss. He also has 14 sacks and 6 forced fumbles...oh, and he might just have been a Bronco the Statesman decided to painfully point out. Of course, we've got a pretty darn good true sophomore LB of our own in Tanner Vallejo (86 tackles, 15 for loss), but Wright's numbers are otherworldly.
And speaking of otherworldly, Wright's LB counterpart Jared Tevis (yep, Aaron's little bro) had 119 stops this season (and also could have been a Bronco, thankyouverymuch). Now, this active of an LB corps is certainly bad news, and it doesn't spell easy going for the Bronco rushing attack—however, given that every cloud has a silver/blue and orange lining...the high tackle totals by LBs often points to weaknesses in other defensive areas, and lo and behold...
Arizona ranks 117th in the nation in passing yards allowed, giving up 279 of them per game, on average. The Wildcats have also given up 27 passing TDs on the season, which is nothing to write home about (Boise State ranks 60th, by the way...and also shan't be writing home). Plan accordingly, Mr. Sanford.
The Wildcats are coached by coaching hobo Rich Rodriguez who parlayed a stellar career at West Virginia into a lackluster tenure at Michigan and then into a pretty-good-so-far stay at Arizona. Rodriguez's previous head coaching gigs were at Salem International University and Glenville State College—one-time alma mater of Channing Tatum! Rodriguez is 26-13 during his tenure in Tucson and the Wildcats have won two straight bowl games (the New Mexico Bowl and the Advocare Bowl).
What are we playing for
Besides glory? This:
Sure it's a little gaudy, but we've got two of them already, might as well complete the set.