The Arizona Bowl game is in its first year of existence and bowl officials have created a bit of an oddity. The strangeness of this bowl game is not that it is going to be played in Tucson, Arizona, a sleepy college town that is home to the University of Arizona, but rather that the game is going to be played between Colorado State and Nevada, who are from the same conference.
Will this weirdness of the game create some interest? Bowl officials hope so, but in reality it probably will have a difficult time getting ratings for television. Many fans, writers, and other pundits believe that the bowl season is out of control with the number of bowls available and when you take a look at the Arizona Bowl, it’s hard to disagree with that point. However, there is a game to be played regardless of records, so let’s take a look at what these teams need to do to come out with the win.
Colorado State, like any other team, has to limit its turnovers. That’s not a groundbreaking thought when it comes to football, but the Rams have had a difficult time holding onto the ball in 2015. In 12 games this season Colorado State has 26 turnovers. The Ram quarterback, Nick Stevens, has thrown 15 interceptions as a freshman, but they have also lost 11 fumbles. By losing the ball this much it is has sunk the Rams to 113th in turnover ratio. Anybody that knows anything about football will know that Nevada is supremely aware of this statistic and will try and create as much pressure up front from their defensive line as possible. Any tackle being made by the Wolfpack will most certainly be one being made with their players trying to strip the ball from the Rams’ running backs and receivers.
Another aspect of this game to be on the lookout for is the ground game for the Nevada Wolfpack. Nevada likes to pound the rock all game and it’s become the bread and butter in their offense. The Wolfpack has a couple of 1,000 yard rushers in James Butler and Don Jackson. Butler leads the team with 1,153 and Jackson isn’t much further behind him with 1,029 yards. It will certainly be up to the Colorado State front seven to stop these runners. Obviously, if that can’t be done, the Rams are in for a very long game.
Nevada likes to run the ball, but Colorado State likes to strike through the air. Nick Stevens, as a freshman led the conference in touchdown passes with 21 while also passing for 2,369 yards. With an air attack like this Stevens has weapons on the outside. Stevens big weapon on the outside is junior Rashard Higgins, who just happens to own some school records in total receptions and touchdowns. For 2015, Higgins has battled some injuries, but still has managed to grab 66 receptions, eight touchdowns, and 933 total receiving yards. This combo of Stevens to Higgins will be one to look for during the course of the game.
This game will be a close game between the two schools. Nevada and Colorado State are teams that know each other very well, even though they did not play each other this past season and it doesn’t look like they are until 2017. The thing that both teams have to battle is the fact they are playing each other. Usually teams play teams from other conferences and that provides some spark to their preparation, but not this time. Both sides have to bring the intensity to win this game, otherwise, it’s a wasted trip to Tucson.
Plus, they have to consider themselves extremely lucky to be in a bowl game in the first place considering both of their records. When the final horn goes off, it’s going to be Colorado State who wins the game 30-24.