Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey breaks for a run during the fourth quarter of the Arizona Wildcats vs. Arizona State college football game on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, at Arizona Stadium.

Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star

The University of Nevada's football team plays in a weaker conference and against lesser opponents. But the Wolf Pack has already grabbed the Arizona Wildcats' attention.

"They've already beaten a team in our league, and they're a very, very good football team," UA coach Rich Rodriguez said.

The Wildcats (7-5) will have to play well to defeat Nevada in Saturday's New Mexico Bowl, held in Albuquerque.

Show up expecting an easy win and, well, Arizona will know how California felt in September.

Nevada upset the Golden Bears 31-24 in Week 1, pulling ahead when running back Stefphon Jefferson punched in a score with 36 seconds left. The Wolf Pack outgained Cal, 450 yards to 364 yards.

Last week, UA players watched tape from that win as they prepared for Saturday's showdown. The content of the Cal game-tape was less important - "the games early in the year don't mean as much as the games later in the year," Rodriguez admitted - than the message.

Slip, and the Wolf Pack (7-5) can pounce.

"They play hard," wide receiver Austin Hill said. "They beat Cal."

Carey chillin'

Ka'Deem Carey didn't watch Saturday's Heisman Trophy presentation on television. In fact, Carey wasn't aware that Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel had won until he arrived on campus Sunday.

"I was coolin', just relaxin', " Saturday, he said. "Having some fun."

The running back received at least two third-place votes, though it's unclear where he finished in the standings. The Heisman Trophy trust releases only the top 10 finishers.

Carey is the first Southern Arizona high school graduate to receive Heisman Trophy votes. Whether he's the first Tucsonan is a matter of semantics.

Rodney Peete was born in Mesa, but grew up in Tucson. He attended Sahuaro High School for three years before moving to Overland Park, Kan., as a senior. Peete went on to play quarterback at USC and in the NFL. In 1988, he finished second to Barry Sanders in Heisman voting.

Carey, who figures to be a preseason candidate for the 2013 award, called the votes "a blessing."

"People are recognizing you, and that means you're doing good things," he said. "Hopefully, a different result happens next year."

Magee honored

UA assistant Calvin Magee has been named the running backs coach of the year by The finalists were selected based off nominations by coaches, athletic directors and athletic department personnel.

Rodriguez said Magee "does a good job every year with the backs" but may have gotten an assist from Carey, who leads the nation in rushing yards per game.

"When your back has a year like Ka'Deem, you get a little more attention," Rodriguez said. "He's well-deserving."

Extra points

• Rodriguez said he "heard some stuff" about being a candidate for jobs at other programs last week, but didn't put too much stock in the rumors. Internet chatter linked the UA's first-year coach to openings at both Auburn and Tennessee; both have since been filled.

"I guess it's flattering," he said.

Rodriguez wasn't altogether out of the loop, though. Butch Jones, who was a candidate at Colorado before taking the Tennessee job, called Rodriguez last week to discuss the Buffaloes' program and the Pac-12.

Rodriguez was positive, he said.

"I told him, it certainly looks like Colorado is prepared to make a huge commitment," Rodriguez said. "They've certainly made a commitment to whoever the next head coach is going to be."

• Carey did a little dance Sunday when told that Nick Foles, his former UA teammate, had led the Philadelphia Eagles to a last-second win over Tampa Bay. The Eagles have long been Carey's favorite team.

Carey said he still feels a connection to Foles, who threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns and ran in a score Sunday.

"I feel like I know what he's thinking out on the field, just being out there with him last year," he said. "It's good to see him out there."

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Up next

• What: New Mexico Bowl: Arizona (7-5) vs. Nevada (7-5)

• When: 11 a.m. Saturday


• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM