Foster Farms Bowl
Arizona (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)
Dec. 27, 8:30 p.m. ET, Santa Clara, California (Fox)
Arizona -3, O/U: 65
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE
Arizona: After a 2-2 start, Arizona’s season took a turn for the better when Khalil Tate was inserted into the lineup at quarterback. Tate, in his first significant action of the season, set an FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 327 yards in a win over Colorado. From there, the Wildcats won their next three and were in the thick of the Pac-12 South race, but a loss to USC gave the Trojans command of the division. Arizona then stumbled down the stretch to finish the regular season 7-5.
Purdue: There wasn’t much expected from Purdue in its first season under Jeff Brohm. The Boilermakers won a combined nine games over the previous four seasons, but Brohm was able to engineer the program’s first bowl season since 2012. Purdue reached a bowl by winning three of its last four games. That stretch came after a three-game losing streak with each loss coming by one possession.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona: Tate didn’t play much (or at all) in Arizona’s first four games, yet still enters his bowl game 16th in the country and third among quarterbacks in rushing yards. Tate has 1,353 yards and 12 scores and had a stretch of six straight games with at least 137 yards and a touchdown, including three games over 200 yards. But in the last two games of the regular season, Tate combined for just 60 yards on 22 rushes. He also threw for 1,289 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 61.4 percent of his passes.
Markus Bailey, LB, Purdue: Purdue has a pretty solid linebacking corps led by senior Ja’Whaun Bentley in the middle while Bailey has provided a pass-rushing threat on the outside. Bailey, a redshirt sophomore, led the team with seven sacks and was second on the team with 78 tackles and 10 tackles for loss. He also registered an interception, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: This will be your last chance to see Tate play this year. He’s been one of the most electric players in the country and was in the Heisman conversation during his ridiculous six-week stretch in October and November. Tate, along with running backs J.J. Taylor and Nick Wilson, will face a big challenge with Purdue, which boasts the No. 30 rush defense in the country, allowing just 133.3 yards per game. Purdue’s offensive numbers aren’t as impressive as Arizona’s, but Brohm’s play-calling is always fun. It’d be a surprise if he didn’t have a few trick plays up his sleeve.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE: The last five years have been rough for Purdue, but Brohm has given the program new life. A win over Arizona would be the Boilermakers’ first bowl win since 2011, when they beat Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, and would also mark the program’s first winning season since 2011. For Arizona, the win would be the fourth bowl win in six seasons under Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats had their first losing season during his tenure last year, going 3-9. Finishing with eight wins would be a solid turnaround.
Nick: Arizona 41, Purdue 34
Sam: Purdue 34, Arizona 30
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