Arizona Wildcats (7-5) vs. Boston College Eagles (7-5)
Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. ET, Shreveport, La. (ESPN)
ARIZONA WILDCATS BREAKDOWN
It’s been a season of highs and lows for the Wildcats in year No. 2 under Rich Rodriguez.
Arizona has been streaky; winning three, then losing two, then winning three and losing two. Lows include a 24-17 home loss to Washington State, while highs include a 42-16 thrashing of Oregon.
But the one thing that has been steady and consistent has been the play of running back Ka'Deem Carey, a Doak Walker finalist who has produced a 100-yard effort in every game this season and 15 straight games going back to last year. That’s the longest streak in the FBS. Carey, the Pac-12 offensive player of the year, led the league in yards per game with 156.0 and was tied for second in the conference with 17 rushing touchdowns. He finished the regular season with 1,716 yards on 322 attempts.
Quarterback B.J. Denker continued to show improvement throughout the season. After a sluggish start, he brought his completion percentage up to 60.5 with 14 touchdowns to seven interceptions. But he’s also shown to be a dangerous runner with 898 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.
After being one of the worst defenses in the conference last season (allowing 35.3 yards per game), the Wildcats showed a huge improvement in the second year of Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 scheme. Arizona has reduced its points per game allowed by nearly 11 in 2013 and is yielding 24.7 points per game.
The Wildcats are going to a bowl game for the fifth time in six years, including both years of the Rodriguez era. -- Kevin Gemmell
BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES BREAKDOWN
Gus Malzahn gets plenty of (deserved) credit for his turnaround efforts at Auburn. David Cutcliffe is picking up plenty of hardware for his miracle job at Duke. But let's not overlook what Steve Addazio has done in his first year in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Boston College has more than tripled last year's victory total, from two to seven. The Eagles upset Virginia Tech and were the only team to come within 20 points of Florida State in the regular season. They were a few plays away from possibly winning at then-No. 3 Clemson, too.
A four-game winning streak ended in the regular-season finale at Syracuse, which scored a game-winning touchdown with six seconds remaining to become bowl-eligible. How did the Orange deny the Eagles a fifth straight win? By doing what few teams could: containing Andre Williams.
The Heisman Trophy candidate has rushed for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, averaging 6.4 yards per carry and punishing attempting tacklers time and time again. He gained a ridiculous 339 yards in a victory over NC State to make BC bowl-eligible, and that came a week after his 295-yard effort helped the Eagles pull away late at New Mexico State.
Williams was held to just 29 yards on nine carries at Syracuse, though, before the senior left the game with an undisclosed injury. He is expected to be fine for the bowl game, and that could be troubling for the defense tasked with stopping Williams in his college finale. -- Matt Fortuna