1. What is the reaction of the fan base regarding the New Mexico Bowl and not staying home to play in the Arizona Bowl?
Mixed. Some fans would have preferred to stay home and get to see the team one more time. I think, though, plenty of fans recognized that it isn't as fun for the players to stay in Tucson, and staying home has little-to-no recruiting value. The New Mexico Bowl isn't a bad consolation in that respect, and it carries a little bit more respect than the Arizona Bowl. The one negative, though, is that Arizona plays UNLV in basketball that night, so some Arizona fans may not be willing to trek out to Albuquerque if it means they miss the basketball game. That said, the last time Arizona played in a bowl game the same night as a basketball game, Arizona came back from down 21 to beat Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl, so maybe that's a good omen.
2. Do Arizona fans see this season as a success?
Nope! A lot of fans had very high expectations coming off of last year, and the team felt woefully short of those expectations. Scooby Wright was out for basically the entire year with injuries, the quarterback situation was far less stable than expected, and the defense was decimated with injuries. That said, the season had a few high points - the win against Utah at home, first and foremost - and I think fans are, at this point, happy to be going to a bowl game.
3. How do you feel the Wildcats defense will fair against the Lobos Triple Option attacks?
If you asked me this question a couple of weeks ago, I'd be pretty pessimistic about Arizona's chances. Fortunately for Arizona, though, it looks like Scooby Wright will be back playing linebacker for Arizona. He makes a huge difference, as Arizona is able to come up with big stops when he plays and is virtually unable to stop anyone when he's out. I also think that Arizona has a number of safeties (Will Parks and Paul "I'm playing linebacker, but I'm actually a safety" Magloire) who can stop the run, so I think Arizona will be able to come up with stops against UNM.
4. What players should Lobo fans watch for on the Wildcats?
The most important player to watch for is Scooby Wright. As I said, he'll be back for the bowl game, and he is hugely important for the Arizona defense. If he is able to look like he did last season, UNM will have trouble consistently putting up yards against the Arizona defense. I'd also look out for Paul Magloire, who is the Wildcats' version of Deone Buchanan (playing linebacker as a natural safety), because Magloire can lay down some big hits against UNM's runners.
On offense, look out for Anu Solomon. Solomon has been injured on-and-off all year and even missed the Arizona State game due to injury, but he passed all the concussion protocols and will be back for this game. Solomon is a crafty quarterback who can make accurate throws in the short-to-intermediate game, but can also get outside and scramble for a few yards if nothing is open down the field. Expect to see Solomon try to make some things happen using his feet in this game.
5. What are your predictions for the game?
I think UNM is a great story this year, and they've pulled out a number of impressive victories since the start of November (with wins over Boise State, Air Force, and Utah State. At the same time, though, the Lobos struggled to beat a bad Hawaii team at home and struggled to beat an even worse New Mexico State team a few weeks earlier.
Arizona is just better. Even if Wilson and Wright weren't healthy, Arizona has been more impressive over the course of the season than UNM, and I think they'll show it on Saturday. I'll take Arizona beating UNM 45 - 38 in a game that is not as close as it looks.