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Heisman Finalist Williams, Boston College to Face Arizona in AdvoCare V100 Bowl

BC RB Andre Williams should be the best player on the field on New Year's Eve in his last college game. (AP Photo/Nick Lisi)

Following two awful seasons, the Boston College Eagles will make their return to postseason football on New Year’s Eve, when they take on the Arizona Wildcats in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Eagles won just six games in 2011 and ’12 combined, leading to the firing of head coach Frank Spaziani, but surpassed that total in their first season under Steve Addazio, going 7-5 and finishing fourth in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

BC’s road struggles had the Eagles at 3-4 at the end of October, but they won all four of their November games to gain bowl eligibility. Their winning streak came to an end on the final game of the regular season, a last-minute 34-31 loss at Syracuse. The surge coincided with a tremendous stretch of play by senior running back Andre Williams that earned him a trip to New York as one of the six finalists for the Heisman Trophy, and garnered him support from former BC Eagle and current Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan:

Florida State QB Jameis Winston will probably win the Heisman, but that doesn’t make Williams’s season any less impressive, as he had 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns on 329 carries, for an amazing average of 6.39 yards per attempt. His performances included a five-score outburst in a 48-27 beatdown of Army on October 5 and an ACC-record 339 rushing yards in a 38-21 win over North Carolina State on November 16. Williams had to leave the Syracuse game after a hard hit in the third quarter, but he’s expected to be fine for the Bowl.

Williams’s play allowed the passing game to take a backseat, but QB Chase Rettig was mostly very efficient when his team needed him, completing 61.8% of his passes for 1,804 yards, with 17 TDs and six interceptions, including a four-TD performance in a 48-34 loss to national championship contender FSU (ranked eighth at the time) on September 28 that was the closest game the Seminoles played all year. Rettig’s favorite target by far was wide receiver Alex Amidon, who racked up 895 yards and five TDs on 67 receptions.

Boston College is 13-9 all-time in bowl games. The Eagles reached the postseason in 12 straight years from 1999 through 2010, but have lost their last three bowls, with their last win coming in the 2007 Champ Sports Bowl, 24-21 over Michigan State, in Ryan’s last college game. All-American safety Jamie Silva, who would go on to play two seasons with the Colts, was the MVP of that game.

The Wildcats, for their part, also finished the regular season at 7-5, good for fourth in the Pac-12 South. After winning three non-conference games to start the year, they dropped their first two conference matchups, both on the road, before reeling off another three victories. However, they lost three of their last four, including their worst loss of the year in the finale, a 58-21 drubbing at then-#13 Arizona State.

Like BC’s, Arizona’s offense is centered around its running game, where junior Ka’Deem Carey had 1,716 yards and 17 TDs on 322 carries, good for 5.33 YPC. QB B. J. Denker, a much more mobile player than Rettig, added 898 yards and 12 scores on 167 carries, at a 5.38 average. His passing numbers were, for the most part, slightly worse than those of his Eagles counterpart: 60.5 completion percentage, 14 TDs and seven INTs, but he did beat Rettig handily in the yards category, with 2,241.

The receiving numbers are much more spread out than Boston College’s. Freshman wideout Nate Phillips led Arizona with 503 yards and seven TDs on 42 catches. Those yardage and reception numbers are a far cry from Amidon’s, but three other Wildcats had more receiving yards than BC’s second-leading receiver, tight end Mike Naples: Terrence Miller, Samajie Grant and Garic Wharton, who totaled four TDs between them.

This will be Arizona’s second straight postseason appearance; they edged Nevada 49-48 in last year’s New Mexico Bowl, with current Jaguars practice squad QB Matt Scott and linebacker Marquis Flowers taking offensive and defensive MVP honors, respectively. Flowers, now a senior, has 87 tackles, one sack and one pick-six this season. Overall, the Wildcats are 7-9-1 in bowl games over the program’s history.

The game will be the first meeting ever between these two teams. Boston College has played two bowl games against Pac-12 teams, beating Arizona State in the 2000 Aloha Bowl and losing to USC in the 2009 Emerald Bowl. Arizona has also faced ACC teams twice in the postseason, beating North Carolina in the 1986 Aloha Bowl and N. C. State in the 1989 Copper Bowl.

According to the Sports Business Journal, all participating players will receive a Timely watch, a New Era cap and a football, as well as access to a gift suite.

2013 AdvoCare V100 Bowl: Arizona (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5), December 31, 12:30 pm ET

About Nick García - @N_A_Garcia

Nick is the Celtics and college sports editor at Sports of Boston. He writes about basketball, football and anything else that comes his way. Follow him on Twitter @N_A_Garcia

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