Advocare V100 Bowl Primer: Arizona vs. Boston College
By Christopher Wuensch
AdvoCare V100 Bowl: Arizona vs. Boston College
The AdvoCare V100 Bowl should come down to one thing: running. Two of the nation’s best will be on display in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 31 when Arizona and Boston College meet for the first time.
The Wildcats (7-5) return to the postseason for the second time in as many years under Rich Rodriquez. Arizona limps into the bowl season losing three of its final four, but their potent ground game make them a threat to anyone on any given day — just ask Oregon.
Boston College enters the AdvoCare Bowl with an identical record as the Wildcats courtesy of a four wins in their final five contests, including victories over Maryland and Virginia Tech.
Both teams have plenty intangibles on both sides of the ball, but the winner is likely the team that can best shut down either the Eagles’ Andre Williams, the nation’s leading rusher, or 2012 rushing leader Ka’Deem Carey of Arizona.
Motivation: Redemption. Carey found himself in Williams’ shadow when it came to postseason accolades, including the Doak Walker Award and a spot on the Heisman dais. Now Carey and the Wildcats have an opportunity to make their own statement in front of a national audience.
If You’ve Never Seen Them: The Wildcats are going to run and not just Carey, who exits his junior season as the Wildcats’ all-time leading rusher (4,070 yards). Arizona’s rushing offense ranks No. 11 in the nation (265.8 ypg) and is commanded by quarterback B.J. Denker, who can also make a name for himself on the national scene with a big game. Denker was the Pac-12’s penultimate passer, but the senior was the conference’s sixth overall rusher (74.8 ypg).
Weakness: What Denker lacks in passing, he makes up for in his rushing. The Wildcats’ offense and defense ranks spectacularly average in just about every stat category conceivable. Arizona protects the quarterback well and is disciplined when it comes to penalties (second-fewest in Pac-12). No facet of the Wildcats’ game, however, has frustrated coaches and Wildcat Nation alike more than the inconsistency from the team’s kickers the last five seasons. Jake Smith finished with a Pac-12 worst 63.2 percent success rate this year. Simply stated, there’s a reason why RichRod hates to kick.
Motivation: To prove to Eagles Nation (and recruits) that they’re back. Boston College returns to the postseason for the first time in two years under first-year coach Steve Addazio. They do so with a core group of seniors that includes the team’s leading passer, rusher and receiver.
If You’ve Never Seen Them: Williams is going to get his workload in. The nation’s leader in rushing yards and average (2,102/175.2 ypg) is also tops in the FBS in carries (329 rushes). Not only can the Eagles rush, but quarterback Chase Rettig (1,804 yards, 17 TDs, 6 INTs) held his own in close losses to Florida State and Clemson. Wide receiver Alex Amidon hasn’t had a 100-yard game since posting 121 yards against Clemson on Oct. 12, but has the potential to break out against a Wildcats squad that yields an average of 235.5 passing yards.
Weakness: The Eagles’ offense doesn’t run many plays and finished the regular season with an ACC-worst 718 total plays — 84 less than the next-lowest team. As a result, the defense sees plenty of time on the field. The Eagles rank second-to-last in the ACC in total defense and last in pass defense. Luckily for Boston College, the Wildcats have by far the worst passing offense in the Pac-12 (No. 98 in the nation).
Las Vegas Hilton Line: Arizona -7.5