Arizona in the postseason

UA football: Wildcats ready for return to most wonderful time

2013-12-22T00:00:00Z UA football: Wildcats ready for return to most wonderful timeBy Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

It’s the commercial that keeps on giving.

Multiple times a day from now until New Year’s Day, ESPN will run its “Capital One Bowl Week” commercial with its rendition of Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” in the background.

And it is — if your team is playing.

Arizona Wildcats fans won’t have to change the channel this year when the spot comes on because their team is right in the middle of it all.

The UA will travel as far east as it ever has for a bowl game this year when it heads to Shreveport, La., on Friday in advance of the Dec. 31 AdvoCare V100 Bowl against Boston College.

“It’s a great time of year if you’re playing,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “It’s not so fun if you’re sitting at home and watching all the other games on TV.”

Last year’s 49-48 win over Nevada in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl improved the Wildcats to 7-9-1 all-time in bowl games. Rodriguez, with stops at West Virginia, Michigan and now Arizona, is 3-4 all-time in the postseason.

Here’s a look at nine bests over the years:

Best bowl performances by an Arizona Wildcats player

1. Quarterback Willie Tuitama; 2008 Las Vegas Bowl: Sure, it’s not the sexiest pick and certainly not the most meaningful performance, but Tuitama was sharp in a 31-21 win over BYU. The quarterback was 24 for 35 for 325 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the win and earned the game’s MVP honor.

2. Running back Chuck Levy; 1994 Fiesta Bowl: Levy helped put an exclamation point on the UA’s 10-2 season in 1993 with a brilliant performance in the ’94 Fiesta Bowl. In a 29-0 win over Miami, Levy rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown on just 17 carries. He was named the offensive MVP for the game.

3. Running back Ka’Deem Carey; 2012 New Mexico Bowl: Carey’s effort was nearly in a losing effort, but two touchdowns in the final two minutes by the UA erased that. Carey rushed for 172 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. He also added three catches for 15 yards.

RichRod’s best bowls

1. 2006 Sugar Bowl: Rodriguez led West Virginia to its first BCS bowl game after a 10-1 regular season in 2005 and the Mountaineers responded with a thrilling 38-35 win over No. 8 Georgia on Jan. 2, 2006. West Virginia running back Steve Slaton rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries and his 52-yard score with 8:52 to play held up as the game-winner.

2. 2012 New Mexico Bowl: Rodriguez’s first bowl game at Arizona was a memorable one. When Matt Scott found Tyler Slavin for a 2-yard score with 19 seconds to play, it capped off a remarkable comeback that saw the UA score twice in the final 1 minute and 48 seconds. The UA held on for a 49-48 win to give Rodriguez an 8-5 record in his first season in Tucson.

3. 2007 Gator Bowl: Despite nine catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns from Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson, Rodriguez’s West Virginia team held on for a 38-35 win over the Yellow Jackets. Quarterback Pat White scored on a 15-yard run with 5:57 to play to secure the win. He finished with 145 yards on 22 carries and was 9 for 15 for 131 yards and two touchdowns through the air.

Top AdvoCare V100/Independence Bowls

1. Mississippi State 43, Texas A&M 41, OT, in 2000: In a driving snowstorm, this game had an ending that rivals last year’s New Mexico Bowl finish. A&M’s Ja’Mar Toombs, who rushed for 193 yards on 35 carries, scored on a 25-yard run on the first play of overtime. But Mississippi State blocked the extra point and returned it for two points. A few plays later, Mississippi State’s Wayne Madkin won it with a 6-yard score.

2. Ole Miss 27, Oklahoma 25, in 1999: The Sooners scored with 2:17 left on a 17-yard pass by consensus All-American and former UA tight ends coach Josh Heupel and went up 25-24. But Les Binkley hit a 39-yard field goal as time expired to give the Rebels a two-point win over Bob Stoops and the Sooners.

3. Oklahoma State 34, Alabama 31, in 2006: The Crimson Tide entered the fourth quarter trailing 31-17, but scored on an 86-yard punt return from current pro Javier Arenas and then tied it up on a 2-yard score from Andre Smith. But Oklahoma State’s Jason Ricks won it for the Cowboys with a 27-yard field goal with eight seconds left.

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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