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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Inaugural Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl kicks off with a bang

As bizarre as it was to see neither team wearing Arizona colors and the block “A” on the helmets, Tucson made a strong case for the future to maintain a bowl as the inaugural Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl took place Tuesday.

The matchup between a pair of Mountain West conference teams in Colorado State and Nevada with the Wolfpack coming out on top 28-23, following a late fourth quarter touchdown from running back James Butler.

The excitement of the game was felt throughout and a gritty game from schools that aren’t in the power five conferences was exactly what the Old Pueblo needed.

“It was a really fun football game,” said Nevada head coach Brian Polian. “There was plays made on both sides and I’m sure it was fun to watch. I’d be lying if I told you this game wasn’t meaningful.”

It’s safe to say that the experiment to reintroduce a bowl game to Tucson was a successful attempt.

The last time a bowl game was in Tucson was the 1999 Insight Bowl when Colorado knocked off Boston College 62-28.

To put the game in better perspective, the previous stint a college football postseason game was in Tucson was when the Matrix first hit the box office and Bill Clinton was still in office.

Now sixteen years later, Tucson is looked at as a future destination.

The Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl doesn’t necessarily meet the eye test because college football fans are spoiled and used to seeing reputable teams compete or smaller schools playing in vacation destinations such as Hawaii or the Bahamas.

What’s so special about Tucson in December?

The Arizona Wildcats football squad just put the cap on their season and basketball has taken a step back in preparation for conference play. Tucson is the ideal city for fans of college football in general because it keeps sports relevant, even with the break from Arizona sports.

A city with a newly renovated downtown scene to be showcased for visitors other than snowbirds.

The Arizona Bowl and Nova Home Loans held a block party just outside of Hotel Congress that was open to the public to kickoff the bowl festivities and it was a chance for both Nevada and Colorado State fans to wish their team a final good luck before the game.

Colorado State and Nevada players interacted with fans and even people from Tucson. It wasn’t the typical ‘I’m going to beat you’ stare down and smack talk between the two programs, but tension was definitely in the air.

Although there were less than 22,000 fans at Arizona Stadium, a game that went down to the final drive along with a halftime performance from Los Lobos was a baby step forward for Tucson.

Regardless of the teams, the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl was a classic.

“I want to publicly acknowledge and say thank you to the folks at the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl, because they treated our kids wonderfully,” Polian said. “This was a great experience and this was a great bowl. This game is going to continue to grow and be a really good destination for people.”

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