Arizona “excited” for Foster Farms Bowl
For the fifth time in six seasons under head coach Rich Rodriguez, Arizona football is going bowling. On Sunday, the team was selected to participate in the Foster Farms Bowl against Purdue (6-6) on December 27 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Arizona (7-5, 5-4) will have a chance to win its fourth bowl game since 2012 and end the season with eight wins, which is an amount that the Wildcats have only reached five times since 2000. The consensus feeling from the team about the bowl selection was a great sense of relief and joy at its annual awards banquet.
“We’re extremely excited,” safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles said. “It was great for the seniors and great for this program to turn it around and get a bowl game.”
Although Arizona has not participated in the Foster Farms Bowl in school history, Rich Rodriguez thinks very highly of the chance to play in the game. It’s certainly a step above the New Mexico Bowl that UA has played in year’s past.
“Very appreciative that it’s an outstanding bowl, a great opponent from certainly a great league and our guys are excited about it,” Rodriguez said.
The team found out about its bowl placement Sunday afternoon in a familiar setting: the football field.
“We found out right after practice,” cornerback Jace Whittaker said. “And everybody was excited, I mean we are going to a bowl game. We missed out on it last year so it’s a great feeling.”
The Wildcats had a rough end to the regular season with a loss to Arizona State in the Territorial Cup and the team admits that the loss didn’t sit well with them.
“Oh man, it’s a bad taste in our mouth,” Whittaker said. “I wish we could start next year right now.”
Luckily, the Wildcats still have one more game to go to end the year on a high note and will have ample time to prepare for the matchup. That means more bodies will be healthy and that includes quarterback Khalil Tate. Rodriguez said that the sophomore sensation is “good to go” against Purdue after suffering a left shoulder injury in the first half against ASU.
A game during the holiday season will also be a chance for several California natives on this year’s squad to visit with its families. Wide receiver Tony Ellison, who grew up just a couple hours north of Santa Clara, said he plans on visiting with family at some point during the trip.
“It’s going to be a really good experience, I haven’t seen them since the Cal game,” Ellison said.
The scheduling of the bowl will put Arizona in the national spotlight for one of the few times this season. Most of UA’s games have been either late at night or on the Pac-12 Network, sometimes both.
This time around, the Foster Farm’s Pac-12 versus Big-10 affair will air on the FOX national broadcast and kick-off at 6:30 p.m. local time.
“We’re fortunate they picked us,” Rodriguez said. “I told the team a couple weeks ago: They’re all good. I haven’t been to any bad bowl games. It’s nice to be wanted.”
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