Arizona Football: What a Win in the New Mexico Bowl Would Mean for Wildcats

Tom Greenhalgh@@Tom_GreenhalghContributor IIIDecember 13, 2012

October 6, 2012; Stanford, CA, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez watches action from the sideline against the Stanford Cardinal in the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. The Cardinal defeated the Wildcats 54-48. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl games have been unkind to the Arizona Wildcats.

In 16 bowl game appearances, the UA has come away with just six wins (6-9-1).

Most recently, in December 2010, the 'Cats were embarrassed by Oklahoma State, 36-10, in the Alamo Bowl. Before that came a 33-0 trouncing at the hands of Nebraska in the 2009 Holiday Bowl.

If Arizona is able to reverse its fortunes Saturday in the 2012 New Mexico Bowl, it would mean much more than just snapping a two-game bowl losing streak and inching its overall postseason mark closer to respectability.

It would mark one of the best years the program has seen in two decades.

With the exception of the best season in Wildcats history—1998, in which the 'Cats finished 12-1—no UA team has won more than eight games in a single season since 1993.

Further, of the three eight-win teams since 1993, only one won a bowl game. The 2008 team, which finished 8-5, defeated BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl.

So, what's at stake for Arizona in the New Mexico Bowl? Capping what would be Arizona's second-best season in nearly 20 years. 

Arizona's athletic director, Greg Byrne, hired Rich Rodriguez to put the Wildcats back on the map. 

While a win in the New Mexico Bowl won't propel the Wildcats to national relevance, it would do a heck of a lot for a program that's long been mired in mediocrity.

And, perhaps more importantly, it would signal that new heights can be reached under RichRod's watch. Perhaps heights that haven't been seen before or after 1998.