WHO: No. 10 Arizona (10-3) vs. No. 20 Boise State (11-2)
WHAT: The 44th VIZIO Fiesta Bowl
WHERE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
WHEN: 4:00 p.m. ET Dec. 31 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: It may not be quite the same as the days of busting the BCS party, but Boise State is back in the Fiesta Bowl for a third time. The Broncos won the lucrative reservation to the New Years Six New Years Eve party by being the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion (sorry Marshall), and the Broncos look to take advantage of it.
Boise State is riding an eight-game winning streak, including a victory in the Mountain West Conference championship game to clinch its spot in the New Years Six line-up. The Broncos have come a long way since opening the season with a loss in Atlanta to Ole Miss and their turnover-filled setback at Air Force. Running back Jay Ajayi has rushed for nearly 1,700 yards and 25 touchdowns and quarterback Grant Hedrick has started to protect the football much more confidently as the offense found its bread and butter down the stretch. The defense has held three straight opponents to fewer than 20 points, but that could be difficult to do in this bowl match-up.
The Broncos will face Arizona, champions of the Pac-12 South and the only team to beat Oregon this season. Rich Rodriguez, the Pac-12 Coach of the Year, and his Wildcats were unable to take down te Ducks for a second time, but they look to be a tough test for Boise State. The star attraction will be middle linebacker Scooby Wright III, who received quite the haul of postseason awards (Bronko Nagurski Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award and multiple defensive player of the year and all-conference mentions) for his efforts this season. But there is more to Arizona than the phenomenal Wright. Arizona’s offensive nucleus has shown plenty of promise with freshman quarterback Anu Solomon (3,458 yards, 27 touchdowns), freshman running back Nick Wilson (1,289 yards, 15 touchdowns) and sophomore wide receiver Cayleb Jones (902 yards, 9 touchdowns).
This one has potential to open things up offensively. Can Boise State score a third Fiest Bowl memory, or will Arizona represent the PAc-12 admirably on the big bowl stage?
THE PREDICTION: Arizona 37, Boise State 30