New Mexico Bowl Preview: Nevada, Arizona and the Swings of a Season

Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

The good news is that college football is back. The bad news, depending on your perspective, is that defense has not yet returned

Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 15, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why it exists: Because even New Mexicans deserve to see good college football at least once a year

The Teams: Nevada and Arizona

How Nevada got here: By playing the first half of the season. The Wolf Pack went 6-1 in the first seven weeks before collapsing down the stretch and finishing 7-5. Nevada used its pistol offense to great effect this year, at least in the games it won, ringing up 260 rushing yards and 37 points a game. The problem was that Nevada allowed more than 37 points in three of their last five games -- all losses -- as the season was running off the rails. However, the only game the Wolf Pack won after Oct. 13 was in Albuquerque, so there's an encouraging sign.

How Arizona got here: By playing the last half of the season. The Wildcats started out strong but plummeted after they reached 3-0, hitting .500 exactly when they lost at Stanford in overtime. It was then that Rich Rodgriguez's latest team turned things on, clobbering Washington 52-17, beating Southern Cal, waxing Colorado and winning at Utah. But Zona also got blasted at UCLA and lost to Arizona State at home in the final month. The defense is even worse than Nevada's, allowing a jaw-dropping 485.7 yards per game. It counts as progress that the Wildcats didn't allow anyone to crack 500 yards in either of its last three games; after all, Arizona held three teams all year under 400 yards.

College football fans care because: College football has returned.

SEC fans care because: College football has returned.

Watch this game if...: You don't mind points. Lots and lots of points.

The result: Arizona 55, Nevada 33

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