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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football’s bowl options dwindle

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Ryan Revock
Ryan Revock / The Daily Wildcat UA senior quarterback attempts to spin out of the way of an ASU defender while running the ball in Tempe on Saturday.

Arizona’s loss to ASU this past weekend gave the Wildcats their second consecutive seven-win season. Their 7-5 overall record placed the UA in seventh place in the Pac-12 Conference, which should earn them another trip to the New Mexico Bowl.

The Pac-12 is an improved overall conference from last season, with nine bowl-eligible schools opposed to last season’s eight. This means Arizona could play in a less impressive at-large bowl, such as the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1, 2014)

The Heart of Dallas Bowl normally is between Conference USA and Big Ten Conference schools. If chosen to play in this bowl, Arizona could replace a school from the Big Ten. The Wildcats would likely play a middle-of-the-road C-USA school like North Texas (8-4, 6-2) or Middle Tennessee State (8-4, 6-2).

In its history, Arizona has played both of those schools once each. The Wildcats’ 14-9 victory over North Texas on Sept. 28, 2002 is the most recent. Arizona also beat Middle Tennessee State 34-19 on Sept. 11, 1999.

This is just the bowl’s fourth-ever season. Last year, Oklahoma State defeated Purdue 58-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl game. The payout for the bowl is $1.1 million.

A unique characteristic about the Heart of Dallas Bowl is that it is played in the historic Cotton Bowl stadium, which currently is home to no university or professional team. The bowl debuted in 2011. Along with hosting other events, the Cotton Bowl’s current claim is being home to the Red River Rivalry, the annual rivalry game between Oklahoma and Texas.

The Heart of Dallas Bowl will be aired live on ESPNU at 10 a.m. MST.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 21)

There is a strong possibility that Arizona, the 2012 New Mexico Bowl champions, will get a shot to defend its 2012 New Mexico Bowl title with another trip to Albuquerque, N.M.

Exactly as it was last season, if chosen to play in the New Mexico Bowl, the Wildcats will play a school from the Mountain West Conference. It for sure won’t be Nevada again, as the Wolf Pack finished this season with a 4-8 overall record and is not eligible for a postseason bowl.

With the Mountain West expanding and being stronger overall this year, it is difficult to project who Arizona will play. But it will likely play either San Diego State (7-5, 6-2 MWC), Boise State (8-4, 6-2) or Colorado State (7-6, 5-3).

In their history against SDSU, the Wildcats are 10-5 with the first meeting occurring in 1931 and the most recent in 2001. Against Colorado State, Arizona is 13-3-1 all-time but lost the most recent meeting, which occurred on Oct. 8, 1994. The UA has never faced Boise State.

Last season, the Wildcats defeated Nevada in the New Mexico bowl 49-48. Since 2006, when the first New Mexico Bowl game was played, no school has won it twice.

New Mexico, Fresno State, Wyoming and Nevada have all played in it twice, but only New Mexico and Wyoming have won it out of those four schools. New Mexico and Fresno State are the only two schools to play in the bowl game in consecutive years: New Mexico in 2006 and 2007 and Fresno State in 2008 and 2009. The Wildcats’ one point thriller over the Wolf Pack last year was the bowl game’s highest scoring game to date with 97 points scored.

The game will air live on ESPN at noon MST.

—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella

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