The Arizona Wildcats found out Sunday night that they are heading to Shreveport, La., for the AdvoCare V100 Bowl on Dec. 31
It used to be called the Independence Bowl. This year it could be called the Running Back Bowl.
The UA and running back Ka’Deem Carey will face off against Boston College and Andre Williams, who leads the nation in rushing yards. Both backs are finalists for the Doak Walker Award, given to the top running back in college football.
“Let the show begin,” Carey said Sunday night after the team’s banquet at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. “It’s going to be fun and exciting. You have two battles going on. You want to beat him in total yards that game, but you also want to win that game.”
The bowl game is not affiliated with the Pac-12 and is supposed to match up teams from the ACC and SEC. But the SEC did not fill its allotment of bowl eligible teams this year and the Pac-12 had three more teams than slots.
So the Wildcats will make the 1,100-mile journey to Shreveport to hook up with the Eagles. It’s the first time the two schools have met and first time since 1995, when the UA beat Georgia Tech, that the Wildcats will face a team from the ACC.
Boston College “is a well-respected program and it’s a very well-respected bowl game,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We’re hoping that we have a large contingent of UA fans head out to Shreveport for the holidays.”
It’s the farthest east the Wildcats have ever traveled for a bowl game. The school will be given an allotment of 10,000 tickets for fans. The reported bowl payout for the two teams is a combined $2.3 million.
The best bet to gets fans to Independence Stadium, which holds 48,975, is the Carey-Williams matchup.
Williams is the only back in the nation to top the 2,000-yard mark this season and had 2,102 yards in 12 regular-season games. He also leads the nation in rushing yards per game at 175.2.
Carey is right behind him in second place at 156 yards and had 1,716 yards in 11 regular-season games this season.
“Isn’t that very compelling,” Rodriguez said. “Both for the folks getting to see it in person and the folks turning it on TV. You’re looking at maybe the two first-team All-American tailbacks and rightfully so. For us to have a chance to win, we have to be able to stop the run.”
If the Wildcats do top the Eagles, it will mark wins in bowl games in back-to-back years for the first time since 1997 and 1998. Then, the Wildcats posted a victory over New Mexico in the Insight.com Bowl and Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.
The AdvoCare V100 Bowl will mark the second time in program history that the Wildcats will play in five bowl games in six years. It was also done in 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994.
Rodriguez said he hopes to have 12 or 13 practices before the bowl game. The coach and several members of his staff will hit the road for recruiting this week and then reconvene for practice on Friday and go through the weekend.
The coach said players will be able to sneak home for Christmas before joining back together to head to Shreveport on Dec. 27.
“Sometimes people talk about the growth and the extra practices, but that’s probably a little overrated,” Rodriguez said. “I think more than anything it’s the experience for your seniors and your guys to experience a different city. I bet we have a lot of guys that haven’t had the chance to be in Shreveport.”
Rodriguez, who served as the offensive coordinator at Tulane in New Orleans for two seasons, said he has spent some time in the area because of recruiting, as have a few other members of his staff.
“It’s a great venue,” Rodriguez said. “It’s going to be a neat experience for all of them and the biggest thing is to try to go down there and play well and win.”
The Dec. 31 date marks the latest the Wildcats have played in a bowl game since the 1993 season when they played Miami in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 1994. This year’s game will be televised on ESPN and will have the national appeal of the Carey-Williams matchup.
“I’ve never been to Louisiana and I’m excited to go to that part of the country,” Carey said. “That type of showtime should be good for the program, so we want to make the best out of it.”
Rodriguez told the team Shreveport was the destination during the banquet on Sunday. The Wildcats will stay at Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino in Shreveport. Senior linebacker Jake Fischer joked he’ll be one of the watchdogs to make sure none of his teammates get in trouble.
“We may have to watch a couple of guys, but I’m sure we’ll be fine,” a smiling Fischer said. “I think everyone’s just excited to go there and play against a good team like Boston College.”