New Mexico vs. Air Force: Game Preview, TV & Radio Schedule, Livestream, Odds, More
The Lobos and Falcons meet again for one of Mountain West football’s most unpredictable games. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for.
Get your popcorn ready.
WEEK 11: New Mexico Lobos (3-6, 1-4 Mountain West) vs. Air Force Falcons (3-1, 1-4 MW)
WHEN: Saturday, November 10 — 1:30 PM MT/12:30 PM PT
WHERE: Falcon Stadium; Colorado Springs, Colorado (46,692)
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: Get a one-week trial of FuboTV.
RADIO: The Air Force broadcast can be found in and around Colorado Springs on KVOR 740 AM. It can also be found in Denver on 104.3 FM. The New Mexico broadcast can be found in and around Albuquerque on KKOB, 770 AM, and elsewhere throughout the state on the Lobos Radio Network, so check local listings. Finally, it can also be found on satellite radio at XM channel 384.
SERIES RECORD: Air Force leads the series 21-14. In the last meeting on September 30, 2017, New Mexico defeated the Falcons, 56-38, in Albuquerque.
ODDS: Air Force -13.5
STAT PROFILES: link
Historically, the conference rivalry between the New Mexico Lobos and Air Force Falcons has never carried any high stakes. In the last five years or so, however, both teams have lit up the scoreboard in some of the most entertaining but little-watched games of the season.
Here are the combined point totals from those last five New Mexico/Air Force tilts: 94, 85, 82, 66, 82. Last year’s bonanza featured over 900 yards of total offense, so even if both attacks have been somewhat diminished this fall, don’t be surprised if history repeats itself.
Here are the keys to how each side can emerge victorious.
Three Keys to a New Mexico Victory
1. Protect the quarterback.
Despite its offensive consistencies, the Lobos had been fairly proficient at protecting who was under center until last Saturday, when San Diego State collected six sacks. The Aztecs’ linebackers feasted on this front, and while the Falcons may not necessarily be able to repeat that kind of performance, UNM will need to give Coltin Gerhart time to throw.
2. Get off to a fast start on offense.
On the season, New Mexico’s 42% Success Rate (50% of necessary yards on first down, 70% on second, is close to the national average, but the Lobos have failed for about a month now at moving the ball early in games. In their last four first quarters, the team’s Success Rate has been 37%, 17%, 33% and, last week against San Diego State, 0%.
Gerhart might be key in this regard, too, since teams have been able to throw against the Falcons early. Air Force has allowed an opponents’ passer rating of 156.09 in the first half of games, next-to-last among Mountain West teams.
3. Don’t waste scoring opportunities.
If the game unfolds as recent history suggests it will, another thing that New Mexico can rely upon is its ability to close drives. They rank just outside the top 30 nationally with 4.91 points per trip inside the opponent’s 40-yard line.
Even if Air Force gets the occasional stop, the Lobos should have an advantage on special teams in Andrew Shelley. Though he’s only attempted five field goals this year, he has yet to miss and has made all three kicks from 40-plus yards. By contrast, Air Force kicker Jake Koehnke is just 1-of-3 from that distance, which could be crucial in a tight game.
Three Keys to an Air Force Victory
1. No bad turnovers.
One of the lowlights in Air Force’s close loss to Army last week was Isaiah Sanders’s lone interception, a poor pass thrown behind his receiver with two defenders nearby. Though they have not been as turnover-prone as last year, they’ll need to be ready against a Lobos defense that, for all of its faults, have been surprisingly proficient at creating turnovers.
Though the Lobos own a -2 margin for the year, their 18 takeaways has already eclipsed their production from a year ago and ranks behind only Fresno State and Utah State among Mountain West teams. Sanders or Donald Hammond III, and fullback Cole Fagan, have fumbled only two times on 275 combined attempts, but an unexpected lapse could lead to a dramatic swing.
2. Win on Passing Downs.
Air Force has struggled to contain big plays through the air, but New Mexico’s offense has been one of the nation’s worst on what Bill Connelly calls Passing Downs. This is defined as 2nd-and-8 or more, 3rd-and-5 or more, or 4th-and-5 or more and, in the last four games, the Lobos have failed to clear a 27% Success Rate in these situations.
By contrast, Sanders may only need a modest rebound to put UNM on the ropes. In the last three games against UNLV, Boise State, and Army, the Falcons’s own Success Rate when throwing has slipped from 73% to 45%.
3. Avoid unnecessary penalties.
New Mexico has been the least-penalized team in Mountain West play thus far, which will put the onus on the Falcons to avoid some of the mental mistakes that put them behind early last week against Army. One good thing, though? Air Force happens to be the least-penalized team in the Mountain West when considering only home games, ranking 4th in the FBS with just 3.8 penalties per game.