New Mexico Bowl Capsule
New Mexico (7-5, 5-3 Mountain West) vs. Arizona (6-6, 3-6 Pac-12), 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Line: Arizona by 7 1/2
Series Record: Arizona, 43-20-3
WHAT’S AT STAKE
New Mexico is in its first bowl game since 2007 and is coming off years of turmoil. The Lobos are 3-7-1 in bowl games and their return to the New Mexico Bowl has generated excitement in Albuquerque. Arizona, plagued by injuries this year, is making its 20th postseason appearance and has a bowl record of 8-10-1. The Wildcats are making their fourth consecutive bowl appearance for the first time in school history, all under coach Rich Rodriguez.
New Mexico’s triple-option threat versus Arizona’s up-tempo air attack. The Lobos are ranked ninth nationally for rushing offense, averaging 246.6 yards. The Wildcats have 37 offensive plays or 30 or more yards this season, which is ranked 13th among FBS teams. Under Rodriguez, Arizona is 26-2 when leading at halftime.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
New Mexico: Running back Jhurell Pressley leads the Lobos with 846 rushing yards and has 35 career touchdowns. Wide receiver Carlos Wiggins was second in the Mountain West in kickoff return average at 28.8 yards.
Arizona: The Wildcats have a trio of 500-yard rushers, Nick Wilson, Jared Baker, and Jerrard Randall, for the first time since 1991. Linebacker Scooby Wright, who has hardly played this season because of nagging injuries, is expected to suit up for the New Mexico Bowl.
FACTS & FIGURES
The matchup renews an old rivalry between schools that used to play annually in a game dubbed “The Battle for Kit Carson’s Rifle.” That rivalry game was discontinued after 1997. ... New Mexico coach Bob Davie was the coach at Notre Dame with the Irish beat Rodriguez-led West Virginia, 34-24, in 2001. ... The Wildcats will be without four regular starters for the New Mexico Bowl due to injury, including defensive lineman Luca Bruno and guard Freddie Tagaloa. ... Jhurell Pressley’s mom says she named him while in labor while watching an episode of a Superman TV series and remembered Superman’s father’s name was Jor-El.