Arizona hung on for a 45-37 win over New Mexico in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Saturday. Here’s how it went down in Albuquerque.
What the win means for Arizona: A way-too-competitive win over New Mexico shouldn’t inspire euphoria for a Pac-12 team, particularly when the Wildcats' defense looked so bad. Still, a win is a win. Arizona finishes a disappointing season with a victory, not an embarrassment, which is the best way to finish a disappointing season. Further, 7-6 feels a lot better than 6-7; a winning record means something. The offense also showed plenty of promise looking ahead to 2016. Quarterback Anu Solomon should have a lot to work with next year, particularly if WR Cayleb Jones doesn’t opt to enter the NFL draft.
What the loss means for New Mexico: The Lobos won’t say they were just happy to be there, but they were, seeing that the program hadn’t played in a bowl game since 2007. So, a bowl game and a winning record are pretty nice things for the program, even if the Lobos ultimately couldn’t hang with the Wildcats. But the loss doesn’t mean as much with the program seemingly taking a strong step forward under coach Bob Davie.
Game ball goes to: Solomon wasn't always in sync, but the final stats are impressive. He passed for 329 yards and two touchdowns with an interception that wasn't his fault. He also rushed for a touchdown.
Unsung hero: Arizona's running backs. Jared Baker finished with 107 yards on 12 carries with three touchdowns. When he got hurt, true freshman Orlando Bradford took over, and he rushed for 61 yards, including two critical short-yardage conversions -- one on fourth down -- on the Wildcats' final drive.
Stat of the game: This was all offense. The teams combined for 1,027 yards.