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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football headed to Fiesta Bowl

Rebecca Noble

Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez speaks to media during Arizona’s Fiesta Bowl press conference at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, Ariz. on Sunday. Rodriguez and the Wildcats will match up with Boise State on Dec. 31 in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl.

Arizona football won’t exactly be staying home for the holidays and the bowl season, but it’s close.

The No. 10/12 Wildcats (10-3) earned a berth in the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., despite their 51-13 loss to No. 2/3 Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game on Friday. Arizona will face No. 20/21 Boise State (11-2) on Dec. 31, as part of the New Year’s Six bowl game lineup.

“This is another big step for our program,” UA athletic director Greg Byrne said.

This is Arizona’s first berth in a major bowl since making the 1994 IBM OS/2 Fiesta Bowl.

“I’m hoping we’ll have the advantage in fans; it’s certainly a lot more convenient,” UA football head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We have a lot of fans up there in the valley … and a lot of alumni, and certainly everybody here in Tucson can get up there, hopefully.”

Rodriguez said he was nervous because they had no idea where they might be going in the new system and is excited to be in one of the “great, traditional bowls.”

“It’s a lot different,” Rodriguez said. “I’m not sure that you want to have a selection party, like basketball, because there is so many unknown factors, but I hope most of our guys who watched it got excited like I did.”

Byrne said he has a lot of friends on the College Football Playoff committee, but he respected their wishes not to be lobbied.

“I heard a little chatter that there was a chance of it last week and then even a little bit more [Sunday] morning,” Byrne said, “but we certainly didn’t have any confirmation [until] we saw it pop on the screen like everybody else.”

The Wildcats are 1-1 in the Fiesta Bowl, having beat No. 10 Miami 29-0 in the 1994 edition, and they lost to No. 10 Pittsburgh in the 1979 game, 16-10.

The UA is 3-2 in bowl games in Arizona, with wins in Tucson in the Copper Bowl, 17-10 over NC State in 1989 and 20-14 over New Mexico in the 1997 Bowl.

Arizona lost 14-13 to Drake in the 1949 Salad Bowl in Phoenix.

Byrne said that ticket buyers on Sunday stated the website was taking 15 to 20 minutes to process tickets.

“That’s a good thing,” he said. “That means there’s a lot of website traffic, and so they’ve been going quickly, and we feel very confident.”

The UA has an allotment of 12,500, 500 for the ZonaZoo. Student tickets are $50, and ZonaZoo members can only request one ticket.

Ticket prices range from $150 to $300 each in the Arizona section.

The remaining tickets outside of the UA section are $75 to $325 as of Sunday afternoon.

If the UA doesn’t sell out its allotment of tickets, they become less attractive for future bowls, however, so the athletics department wants Wildcat fans to buy from them first.

“We need our fans to buy it from our website,,” Byrne said.

Boise State clinched the “Group of Five” New Years Six Bowl slot with a 28-14 win over Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship Game on Saturday.

College football was divided into the “Power Five” conferences this year, such as the Pac-12 Conference and the Group of Five, such as the Mountain West. Champions of the Power Five leagues get automatic bids.

“It’s a chance for us to play on a national stage against a really good team,” Rodriguez said.

Boise State, which went 7-1 in the Mountain West, didn’t beat any ranked teams this season, losing 35-13 to No. 9/9 Mississippi in Atlanta on Aug. 28 in its only game against teams currently ranked in the College Football Playoff top 25. Boise State is 1-4 in last five games against the Power Five and winless in its last four against ranked teams.

The Broncos won 51-46 at Nevada, a team that the Wildcats beat 35-28 at home.

The Rose Bowl is hosting a semifinal this season, so the Wildcats would have gone there in any other season. Arizona is the only original Pac-10 team to never make it to the Rose Bowl.

“Our goal is still to get to the Rose Bowl at some point and win it,” Rodriguez said, “but the way the College Football Playoff thing is changing everything around, there’s been some controversy, but I also think there’s been a lot of excitement, too. So, we’re happy to be in one of the big six.”


Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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