The Arizona Wildcats got to the Holiday Bowl by defeating the Mighty Trojans of Southern California 21-17 in Los Angeles and finishing with an 8-4 record overall and a 6-3 conference record, while the Nebraska Cornhuskers limp in after a heart breaking 13-12 loss to the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 Conference Championship Game. Despite the tough loss, the Cornhuskers finished the season as the North Division Champions of the Big 12 and a 9-4 overall reacord and 6-2 conference record.
While the better writers are doing write ups on the BCS Bowls, I'm taking a look at some of the other bowl games and offering up a prediction. Next up, the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
December 30, 2009
San Deigo, CA
Arizona's offense is lead by sophmore QB Nick Foles, who has passed for 2438 yards, a 66.1% completion rate and 19 tds against 8 picks. His best game of the season came against Stanford when he completed 40 of 51 passes for 415 yards and three tds with no interceptions. Fellow sophmore QB Matt Scott, who entered the season as the Arizona starting QB, adds a running threat from the QB position and may see some snaps.
The Wildcat running game is a three headed monster lead by junior RB Nic Grigsby, who despite missing 3 games this season rushed for 559 yards on only 75 carries and scored a team high 5 td on the ground. Sophmore RB Leola Antolin carried the ball 108 times for 568 yards, a team high and 4 tds. 6'-2" 220 lb Freshman RB Greg Nwoko carried the ball 76 times for 273 yards and 3 scores.
Arizona has great depth on the outside with 5 players with 30+ receptions. They are lead by 6'-4" sophmore WR Juron Criner who had 43 catches for a team high 580 yards and 9 tds, also a team high. Senior WR Terrell Turner lead the Wildcats with 47 receptions for 450 yards and 4 tds. Sophmore WR David Roberts caught 43 passes for 410 yards and a td.
Arizona's well balanced offense ranks #41 of 120 and averages 407 yards/game, #47 rushing with 168 yards/game and #40 passing at 239 yards/game. The Wildcats score 29.7 points/game and rank #41.
The Wildcat defense is #21 in the nation allowing 316 yards/game, 112 yards/game on the ground good for #22 and 204 yards/game passing and rank #43 against the pass. They are allowing 23.2 points/game which ranks #46 in the nation.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers offense is lead by junior QB Zac Lee who passed for 1970 yards on 58.8% completions. He had a 13 to 10 td to int ratio. Freshman QB Cody Green may spell or replace Lee if he is ineffective. Much like Arizona's Matt Scott, Green is a threat to run the ball, either scrambling out of the pocket or running the option. He has only thrown for 317 yards and 2 tds but he has rushed for 140 yards on 26 carries and 2 tds.
Junior RB Roy Helu Jr. is the main source of the Huskers offense. He has rushed for 1139 yards on 217 carries and 9 tds. His best performance came against the Oklahoma Sooners when he carried the ball 20 times for 138 yards against the stingy Sooner defense. Spelling Helu Jr will be be two freshman, RBs Rex Burkhead and Dontrayevous Robinson with Burkhead getting the bulk of the extra work. The duo combined for 416 yards on 102 carries and 4 tds.
Junior WR Niles Paul lead the team with 36 receptions, 673 yards and also caught 3 td passes. TE Mile McNeill was second on the team with 25 catches, third with 240 yards and lead the team with 4 tds. Star RB Roy Helu Jr was third on the team with 19 receptions out of the backfield.
Nebraska's offense ranks #102 of 120 FBS teams. The Cornhuskers are #69 rushing with 141 yards/game, #101 throwing the football at 175 yards/game and score 24.5 points/game, #80 in the nation.
Nebraska shines on defense, lead by senior DT Ndamukong Suh. #93 nearly shut down the Texas Longhorns singlehandedly. His stat line for the game read like a season for other defensive tackles, 12 tackles, 7 for loss and 4.5 sacks. As a unit the Blackshirts rank #9 in the nation allowing an impressive 285 yards/game. They are #11 against the run at 96 yards/game and #25 against the pass allowing 189 yards/game. The Blackshirts are #2 in scoring defense giving up only 11.2 points/game.
How I see it:
This is one of the most intriguing bowl match ups this season. Two teams on their way up, from BCS conferences looking to put a final stamp on a great season. PAC 10 versus Big 12. By looking at the stats, Arizona looks to be the favorite, but Nebraska proved against Texas that their defense can carry the team.
In Ndamukong Suh's final game as a Nebraska Cornhusker, is there any doubt that he will be completely unblockable? Arizona is going to have to run screens and draws to keep him from pinning his ears back and blowing up Nick Foles.
I do believe Nebraska will find some success against a stingy Arizona defense, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the old triple option out of the I formation when Nebraska has the ball.
The Wildcats defense force a couple Zac Lee turnovers to set up good field position for Noles and the offense.
Arizona Wildcats 20 Nebraska Cornhuskers 16
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