The Wildcats enter 7-5 and the Boilermakers come in at 6-6. This game matches up two teams who fared miserably last season and are excited to be back in a bowl game.
And here’s how Arizona can leave Santa Clara with a win.
Key 1: Khalil Tate
No big surprise here, as Tate has dominated while on the field this season. He suffered a minor injury in the Territorial Cup a month ago, but he’ll be back for the bowl.
Tate has proven himself one of the best athletes in college football, and he’s just a sophomore. Purdue has actually faced an athlete like Tate in Lamar Jackson. While Purdue almost managed an upset in that game, Jackson prevented that by torching the Boilermakers.
If Tate can throw some deep balls and remain a running threat, Arizona stands a great chance of winning. Lucky for them, he’s done those two things consistently since becoming the Wildcats starter.
Key 2: Stopping Sindelar
Purdue starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar has been a serviceable quarterback for the Boilermakers, taking over full-time starting duties after spending the beginning of the year splitting time with the injured David Blough.
Sindelar’s one true strength is a big arm that gets used a lot by Purdue coach Jeff Brohm, and it’s vital that the Arizona defense stops him a majority of the time. The Wildcats’ defense has not been a strength, but if guys like Dane Cruikshank and Colin Schooler can make some plays against the Boilermaker offense, the chances of a UA victory rise dramatically.
Key 3: Steady Pace
Arizona is a boom-or-bust offense with Khalil Tate, with many drives either ending in a very long play or a 3-and-out. The Purdue offense, despite beginning the transition into a fast-paced team this year, is going to slow the game down much more than most of Arizona’s previous opponents. In order to keep the defense rested, the offense may have to take its time.
This is where the Wildcats can beat themselves if they aren’t careful. They’ll need to toe the line between fast-paced and slow-and-steady. Too slow, and they’ll get out of rhythm. Too fast, and the defense may get fatigued and fade late. Arizona has the talent to win this game, but the pace of the game will either help or hurt them greatly.
The Foster Farms Bowl will be televised nationally on FOX at 6:30 p.m. MST on Wednesday.