Boise State vs. Air Force: Preview, Score Prediction
Boise State Game Day Preview, Time to Get Some Revenge vs Air Force
Division Title and Pride Hangs in the Balance on Boise State Senior Day
After a thrilling overtime victory over Colorado State, the Boise State Broncos return to the Blue Turf to host the Air Force Falcons. While a great many things have gone right in the Bryan Harsin Era, matchups against Air Force have certainly not. Long time Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun holds a perfect 3-0 record vs Boise State Head Coach Bryan Harsin and this game will certainly be personal for both Harsin and the Senior Class as they look to prevent being the victims of a 4 year sweep. While Air Force has not played well in 2017, they are still a dangerous foe for the Broncos.
Game Day Basics
No. 25 Boise State Broncos 8-2 (6-0) vs Air Force Falcons 4-6 (3-3)
Saturday November 18, 2017 at 8:15 PM MST
Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho
Weather Forecast: Sunset at 5:16 PM, Partly Cloudy with a 10% chance for rain, temperature expected to be 47 degrees
Point Spread: Boise State -17.5
All Time Record: Air Force 3 wins, Boise State 2 wins
Current Win Streak: Air Force 3 wins
2016 Matchup: Air Force 27, Boise State 20 (Colorado Springs, CO)
Air Force this season
Air Force finished the last 3 seasons at 10-3, 8-6, and 10-3 with a MWC Championship game appearance in 2015; however the Falcons have not fared as well this year. Standing at 4-6, the Falcons need to win against both Boise State on the road and Utah State next week to become bowl eligible.
Air Force should not be underestimated though as the Falcons played tough in losses to San Diego State (28-24) and Navy (48-45) while also putting up an impressive victory over Colorado State in Fort Collins (45-28). While the offense (total yards gained) for the Falcons has remained solid (39th in the country, 38th last season), it has been their defense (total yards allowed) that has slid from 34th in the country in 2016 to 57th this year.
This can likely be attributed to the loss of their top 2 leading tacklers in 2016 to graduation, Brody Hicks and Weston Steelhammer (yes, this dangerous young man will not be a part of the Falcon secondary this weekend). Air Force also lost leading rushers D.J. Johnson and Jacobi Owens to graduation but bring back dual threat quarterback Arion Worthman. Worthman for the season has picked up 1100 yards through the air on a 49.5 completion percentage with 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions while also chipping in 821 yards (3.8 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns on the ground.
David Moa (DT) is listed as questionable and a slew of other Broncos are dealing with bumps and bruises. Alexander Mattison (RB), Cedric Wilson (WR), and Kekoa Nawahine (S) amongst other looked banged up or missed portions of the Rams game last week. Starting NT, Sonatane Lui missed last week’s contest as well.
Stop the triple option.
As Bronco fans may be aware, the triple option has given Boise State problems in the past. It will be key for the Bronco defenders to stay disciplined in their assignments and stop the Falcons from rushing for big gains. Tackling at all three levels will be the key to success in stopping the triple option. While the Falcons will likely not be passing the ball much (118 attempts in 10 games), they can catch a defense unprepared and pick up big yards in their air. With most of the focus will be on Air Force’s rushing attack, the Broncos secondary must be aware and alert.
Time of possession.
Because Air Force will hold the ball for long periods of time with their triple option rushing attack, it is important for the Broncos to establish their own running attack to give the defense some rest. Ryan Wolpin has come on strong lately and Alexander Mattison won the MWC offensive player of the week after an absurd game against the Rams (242 yards rushing yards, 44 receiving yards). Both will be needed to move the ball on the ground.
It has been noted by many football experts that winning the turnover margin will lead to good things. Boise State incredibly did not turn over the ball at all in their first 5 conference matchups before losing 2 against the Rams. Boise State has taken the ball away from their opponents 18 times this season while the Air Force defense has managed only 9 takeaways.
Division and Conference Implications
Boise State has run through their conference competition this season, holding an impressive 6-0 record in the Mountain West. The Broncos need only to win one of their remaining two games OR need Wyoming (5-1 in conference, tiebreaker belongs to Boise State via head to head matchup) to lose one of their final two games to clinch the Mountain Division.
The Broncos will travel to Fresno State next week while the Cowboys host Fresno State this week before heading to San Jose State to finish their season. Cowboy’s highly touted quarterback Josh Allen is battling a shoulder injury and is considered day to day for this week’s matchup. Expect Fresno State (7-3, 5-1 in conference) to be fired up in this one, needing just a victory to clinch the West Division over San Diego State and UNLV.
Of course the simplest and most favorable outcome for Boise State is to beat Air Force at home and secure the division and a trip to the Mountain West Championship game.
New Year’s Six Implications
While the American Athletic Conference will likely place their champion in the New Year’s Six bowl games this year, the Broncos still have a legitimate shot to make their second appearance to the biggest stage in the Bryan Harsin Era. Boise State came in at No. 25 in the latest College Football Playoff committee rankings, but the Broncos will need to win their final two games and the MWC Championship to have a shot.
Currently No. 15 Central Florida (9-0) and South Florida (8-1) from the East Division and No. 21 Memphis (8-1) from the West Division stand in the Broncos path. If the AAC champion (keep in mind that only conference champions are eligible for the NY6) does finish with 2 losses, expect the Broncos to move ahead of the AAC champion and punch their ticket. UCF travels to plays Temple (5-5), USF hosts Tulsa (2-8), and Memphis will host SMU (6-4).
Expect Boise State to come out with a point to prove on national television. While Air Force is dangerous and their triple option has been tested, Air Force is not the same squad they were the last three years and the Broncos, on the other hand, have been on fire lately.
On Saturday, Boise State will defend their home turf with a statement victory and secure the Mountain Division. Expect Brett Rypien, Jake Roh, and company to lead an aggressive and balanced Bronco attack down the field and Andy Avalos’s defense to be focused and determined.
I anticipated victories for the Broncos in their last 3 games while also predicting Boise State to cover the spread. I was right on both accounts all 3 times. For this Saturday’s game versus the Air Force Falcons, I am predicting the Broncos to once again win AND cover the 17.5 point spread against Air Force this Saturday (was there any doubt which way I would go in my first article for Mountain West Wire?).
Boise State 41, Air Force 20
**Statistics from ESPN and College Football Reference