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2015 Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Can Arizona build on recent bowl history?

What: Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.

Time: Saturday, 12 p.m. MST

TV: ESPN

Odds: Arizona is a 9-point favorite

Rich Rodriguez is here to stay, and so the Arizona Wildcats (6-6) head to the bowl season for the fourth time under their head coach after closing a year defined by injury. Nonetheless, it’s a postseason berth.

The appearance Saturday in the Gildan New Mexico bowl adds to Arizona football’s relatively brief bowl history and provides a jumping-off point — and that extra practice time — for next year.

Among the things to watch as Arizona faces New Mexico in what’s essentially a road game: Will this be star linebacker Scooby Wright’s last game as a Wildcat? Can inconsistent sophomore quarterback Anu Solomon close the year on a high note? And will the embattled Arizona defense stop a unique triple-option Lobos attack?

On a wider scale, the game will become part of the Rodriguez legacy for a football program that, after a bowl-less streak from 1998-2008, probably doesn’t take for granted such opportunity.

Rodriguez flirted with the South Carolina head coaching gig just weeks ago before deciding there was more to accomplish in Tucson. Can the Wildcats get RichRod his third bowl game victory in his four seasons in charge?

Here’s a look back at the last three bowl appearances to begin Rodriguez’s tenure.

2012 New Mexico Bowl

Arizona 49, Nevada 48

Arizona (8-5) fell behind 21-0 to start the game and trailed 45-28 heading into the fourth quarter before kicking off the 2012 bowl season with the wildest of games. Quarterback Matt Scott threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns to receiver Austin Hill and thanks to a recovered onside kick in the final minute another to Tyler Slavin as the Wildcats beat the Wolfpack by scoring 14 points in the final 42 seconds.

2013 Advocare V100 Bowl

Arizona 42, Boston College 19

The bowl game in Shreveport acted as a showdown between the two Doak Walker Award favorites — running backs Ka’Deem Carey of Arizona and Boston College’s Andre Williams. Carey lost the individual award to Williams but got his final say in by taking 27 carries for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Arizona (8-5) won easily, all while holding Williams to 26 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown.

2014 Vizio Fiesta Bowl

Boise State 38, Arizona 30

A game in their home state didn’t help the Wildcats, who after beating ASU to win the Pac-12 South, sputtered in the conference championship against Oregon. They fell short against Boise State, which pulled out the Statue of Liberty play that infamously won the Broncos their 2007 Fiesta Bowl classic over Oklahoma. Like its bowl game two years prior, Arizona fell behind 21-0 but this time couldn’t make up the difference in a rally. On a final possession, Solomon, with his Wildcats threatening to score in the red zone, was tracked down and dropped for a sack as time ran out.

Arizona football bowl history

Season Bowl Result Opponent PF PA
1921 Christmas L Centre 0 38
1949 Salad L Drake 13 14
1968 Sun L Auburn 34 10
1979 Fiesta L Pittsburgh 16 10
1985 Sun T Georgia 13 13
1986 Aloha W North Carolina 30 21
1989 Copper W NC State 17 10
1990 Aloha L Syracuse 28 0
1992 Sun L Baylor 20 15
1993 Fiesta* W Miami 29 0
1994 Freedom L Utah 16 13
1997 Insight.com W New Mexico 20 14
1998 Holiday W Nebraska 23 20
2008 Las Vegas W BYU 31 21
2009 Holiday L Nebraska 0 33
2010 Alamo L Oklahoma State 10 36
2012 New Mexico W Nevada 49 48
2013 AdvoCare V100 W Boston College 42 19
2014 Fiesta L Boise State 30 38
2015 New Mexico New Mexico
Total 20 bowl games 8–10–1

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