Independence Bowl: Future looks bright for Arizona, Boston College

Arizona Wildcats (7-5) vs. Boston College Eagles (7-5)
Tuesday, Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
Line: Arizona by 6.5

How Arizona got here: After a surprising first season under Rich Rodriguez, many Arizona fans were probably hoping for a better 2013. But the Wildcats had a number of key holes to fill so this season wasn’t a real shock. Arizona did open up 3-0 before dropping its first two conference games to Washington and USC. The Cats did rebound with three straight Pac-12 wins to get back in the hunt. They also defeated Oregon. However, losing three of its last four, including another loss to rival Arizona State has the Wildcats reeling coming into the bowl game.

How Boston College got here: Outside of Duke, Boston College might be one of the biggest surprises of the season. It could have been even better if not for a bad season-ending loss to Syracuse 34-31. But you have to overlook that for now as BC did win four straight before that loss, including wins over Virginia Tech and Maryland. The Eagles even played No. 1 Florida State tough before losing 48-34.

For Arizona to win: The Wildcats can score some points and it might be time for Ka’Deem Carey to put up some big rushing numbers against an average rush defense. If Carey puts up numbers like he did against Oregon (48 carries for 206 yards and four touchdowns). That will guarantee the Wildcats a win.

For Boston College to win: While the running game should play a huge factor in who wins this game, don’t overlooked the impact that QB Chase Rettig could have on the outcome. He hasn’t been asked to do as much during the first year of Steve Addazio’s tenure, but he Rettig did throw for more than 3,000 yards last year. Arizona’s secondary may not be ready for this guy.

Key Player (Arizona): B.J. Denker, QB. Arizona is a tough out when Denker is both running and throwing well. Being accurate is more important than yards for Denker. If he provides the balance on offense that Arizona needs it’s hard to see how Boston College can contain the Wildcats’ offense.

Key Player (Boston College): Andre Williams, RB. The senior was a Heisman finalist after rushing for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns. Before this season, Williams had rushed for a combined 1,562 yards in three seasons. At 6-0, 227 pounds, Williams is a bruising runner. BC would love to control the tempo of the game with Williams churning out yards on the ground.

Key Stat: 2007. That is the last time Boston College won a bowl game. The Eagles defeated Michigan State 24-21 in the Champs Sports Bowl. Since then they have lost to Vanderbilt, USC and Nevada in bowl matchups.