This year’s AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl will be a showdown between two of college football’s most dominant players. Andre Williams, the tough-to-tackle, stocky, record-breaking running back, will be in a rushing battle with his counterpart: Arizona's Ka’Deem Carey, one of the most highly sought-after running backs in this coming NFL draft.
It's record-breaking running back versus record-breaking running back.
Williams and Carey are the best in the country. Both having 17 touchdowns on the season and over 320 carries through 12 games, these rushers are the foundation of their respective team’s successes.
Sharing the same record (7-5), Boston College and Arizona have also had remarkably similar seasons. Putting up impressive results against ranked teams, they have showed that they can compete with the nation’s best. BC led national championship contender Florida State 14-0 in the first half before falling 48-34. The Wildcats upset the No. 5-ranked Oregon Ducks in blowout fashion, 42-16.
At the same time, both teams have faltered in easier matchups.
With new coaching schemes, Boston College and Arizona are both in a transition period in their program’s history.
As we all know, BC head coach Steve Addazio has focused this year’s team strategy on one player and his support crew. Averaging over 27 carries a game, Williams is the "meat and potatoes" of the Boston College football team. His special combination of power and agility led to a record-breaking season and being recognized as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Addazio made it clear that he was a proponent of smash-mouth football, and Williams became the ideal steward of such a movement.
Similarly, for the past two years, Arizona has reformed their program to the style of their new coach and superstar running back. Rich Rodriguez, the current head coach, is famous for his Spread offense. The Spread offense is characterized by “spreading” the play across the field, ultimately to expose holes in the defense. The rushing attack is mainly focused on plays running to the outside of the offensive and defensive lines. The success of this is dependent on the mobility of the blockers and the speed of the ball carrier, whether it is the running back, quarterback or wide receiver. This new offensive theory is reforming the traditional style of running through the offensive line and has become immensely popular across the college football landscape.
Coming off of a disastrous stint at the University of Michigan, “RichRod” has been eager to utilize Carey in his offensive theory. With two consecutive bowl games under Rodriguez’s tutelage, the effectiveness of the Spread is undeniable. Carrying the ball and the team to new heights, Carey evidently embraced a new style of running: He was recently recognized as a First Team All-American for the second straight year.
While the Spread rings of modernism--concurrent with the dual-threat quarterback--this bowl will still be reminiscent of old school football.
In an age of football focused on passing, this type of matchup is rare. Today, few offenses primarily focus on the rushing game. It has become increasingly difficult to succeed in a running-based strategy because the size and speed of the running back is matched by the defensive front.
For a moment, college football will revert to its former years--at least on the offensive side of things. The AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl will be a glimpse of the past. Picture a classic BC-Holy Cross game from the early 20th century, less the leather-clad helmets and hand-sewn jerseys, and you'll have the BC-Arizona bowl game (on the offensive side of things). OK, maybe that's a bit too overdone, but you get the point.
This year's Independence Bowl carries one storyline after another. An old school, rushing-dominated offense clashing with the swagger of new school football will validate one coach's season, and lessen the glory of another coach's run.
Andre Williams and Ka'Deem Carey can settle the debate on who is more NFL-worthy.
But, more importantly, a win would give one team a kick into next season.
An 8-5 record looks so much more appealing than 7-6, too.
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