Arizona vs. New Mexico Prediction, New Mexico Bowl Preview

    Arizona vs. New Mexico prediction and 2015 Gildan New Mexico preview. Find out who'll win the battle between the Lobos and Wildcats.

    December 12, 2015


    The neighboring Arizona Wildcats (6-6) and New Mexico Lobos (7-5) meet in the 10th annual New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque. Check out the Arizona vs. New Mexico prediction and game preview.


    Arizona vs. New Mexico Game Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Saturday, December 19
    Game Time: 2:00 ET
    Network: ESPN

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    Why You Need To Care

    An old border war will be waged this week between Arizona and New Mexico, schools that have twice shared a league, the Border Conference and the WAC. But the Wildcats and the Lobos will meet in Albuquerque under very different circumstances.

    At this time last season, Arizona was the Pac-12 South champ preparing for a Big Six bowl appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. This fall, the team was fortunate to even qualify for a spot in the postseason. The defense was never the same after losing tone-setting All-American LB Scooby Wright to an injury, allowing more than 50 points in three league games. Arizona did upset Utah late in the year to briefly move above .500, but then folded a week later at ASU. The goal now will be to avoid the school’s first losing season since 2011.

     New Mexico was a surprise, too, but for a very different reason. The Lobos have far exceeded expectations in Bob Davie’s fourth year, making an improbable return to the postseason for the first time since 2007. Picked before the season to finish last in the Mountain Division, New Mexico wound up tied for second following shocking November wins over Utah State, Boise State and Air Force. Davie can add an exclamation point to his sizzling close by upsetting a Pac-12 opponent.

    Why Arizona Will Win

    Few bowl eligible teams needed a break more than the Wildcats did.

    After playing 12 games in 12 weeks, Arizona was gassed and depleted by the third week of November. But a month away from contact will do wonders for Rich Rodriguez’s roster. Getting QB Anu Solomon, LB Scooby Wright and RB Nick Wilson back to full strength will allow the Cats to perform much closer to their preseason expectations. For all of its mediocrity this season, Arizona did average close to 37 points per game. And with Solomon and Wilson back, the team’s balance and big-play ground game will overwhelm a soft New Mexico D yielding 432 yards per game.

    Why New Mexico Will Win

    The Lobos are home, motivated and entering the postseason with the wind at their back.

    Never underestimate the bowl team brimming with want-to. For Arizona, this game is symbolic of a disappointing campaign. For New Mexico, it’s a reward for taking the Mountain West by storm last month. The Lobos like to run the ball like a service academy, averaging 246 rushing yards per game behind the capable trio of QB Lamar Jordan and backs Jhurell Pressley and Teriyon Gipson. New Mexico can wear down and play keep-away with opponents like the Wildcats, who were woeful on defense from start to finish.

    Player Who Matters

    Time will be on the side of Arizona for this week’s New Mexico Bowl.

    The Cats have had time to prepare for Davie’s one-dimensional attack. And time to get Wright, who’s played in just two games, healthy. Arizona never came close to surviving without their All-American on the second level of the defense. But he’s practicing again and eager to go out on a high note, in the even that this is his last game with the program. Wright will be rusty for certain. But his presence will be enormous for the Wildcats, who’ve missed his leadership and his ability to stuff opposing ground games like the one they’ll see this week.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    As long as their heads are in the game, the Wildcats will have too much talent and offensive diversity for the Lobos.

    Arizona has a chance to look like a very different team than the one that slogged to a 1-4 finish. It’s rested, recharged and ready to close 2015 with a winning record. Plus, with Solomon back behind center and Wright quarterbacking the D, the Cats are welcoming back their two most important players. While New Mexico will churn out its usual 200-plus yards on the ground, it won’t be enough to offset the mix of Wilson’s running and the passing of Solomon to a deep corps of pass-catchers.

    Arizona vs. New Mexico Prediction

    Prediction: Arizona 40, New Mexico 28, Line: Arizona -10, o/u: 63
    Must See Rating: 5: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – 1: Property Brothers at Home on the Ranch …3

    MORE: 10 Best College Football Bowl Games

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