Birds takin’ on the Dogs
Mountain meets West Conference Battle
WEEK 7: Fresno State Bulldogs (2-2) vs. Air Force Falcons (3-2, 1-1 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, October 12 — 4:00 PM PT/5:00 PM MT
WHERE: Falcon Stadium; Colorado Springs, Colorado (46,692)
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAMING: You can get a free seven-day trial of FuboTV by clicking here.
SERIES RECORD: Air Force 6 wins- Fresno State 3 wins
ODDS (via OddsShark): Air Force -4
SP+ PROJECTION: Air Force by 7.6 (67% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: Air Force by 6.1
There is plenty of intrigue as we have cruised into week seven of the football season. Air Force is coming off of a crushing loss at the hands of Navy, while Fresno State had an extra week to prepare for the Falcons option attack coming off of a bye week.
The season is starting to come together as the Mountain West begins taking form. Fresno may have started off the season with two losses, but these were two quality losses to very respectable Power 5 opponents- Minnesota by the way has yet to lose this year after narrowly escaping the Dogs in week one.
Air Force’s season on the other hand has mirrored their play overall; very up and down. Air Force has a quality win against Colorado early in the season, but hasn’t been able to continually put a clean performance together.
This week should present a really good barometer for both teams to gauge just where they stand in the order of power in the Mountain West Conference. Though in separate divisions, both of these teams were expected to be contenders in the conference.
While Fresno has yet to play a conference game, Air Force is looking to find its stride after splitting its two Conference games.
Three Keys to an Air Force Victory
1. Avoid the turnover bug
One of the most troubling aspects of the Falcon habits thus far is their lack of regard for protecting the ball. Air Force doesn’t throw the ball a lot, but they have more interceptions thrown than they would like. But the biggest culprit would have to be the rate which this team has put the ball on the ground.
Turnovers are a key to any game. But for Air Force, even though they have recovered a majority of their fumbles, its really damaging to drives. The Falcons thrive on steady gains and convertible down and distance. Even a recovered fumble usually reflects a loss of yardage and a significant impediment to what they want to do.
2. Get Remsberg Going
The Falcons have big play potential in their tailback, Kadin Remsberg. He was instrumental in their win over Colorado, and you might say he was just as instrumental in their loss to Navy by virtue of his lack of opportunities.
Remsberg is a speed back that teams are no longer caught by surprise by. But there is more to his game than that, and getting him more touches may prove crucial against a very stout Fresno defense. He does need to be sure to protect the ball as unfortunately he has coughed up the ball a few times this year showing he has a physical edge to his game seeking out contact to grind out extra yards.
This is a player with All-Conference potential. In the Air Force offense, touches aren’t heavily yoked to one back usually. But this is a player worth finding ways to get the rock to.
3. Capitalize and Keep Away
Fresno State’s offense may not seem as lauded as their defense, but the Falcons should beware. This is a team that has manufactured points under Jeff Tedford.
It will go a long way to helping Air Force find a victory if they limit possessions for Fresno by monopolize the clock. Keeping on schedule doesn’t just keep the ball away from the Bulldogs, but can wear down a defense physically and mentally.
This should be a pretty physical Conference collision, as both teams defenses play downhill well. The Falcons will need their front seven to keep Jorge Reyna uncomfortable in the passing game, and the offense overall from finding traction on the ground.
Air Force is also going to have to find the end zone and not settle for field goals if they want to get back in the win column. Its great that Jake Koehnke has been so reliable in the kicking game, but this is a team that needs tuddies!
This is not an easy game to get a read on, but I am going to look for a level of correction, not necessarily desperation to get the Falcons back on track. That loss to Navy could provide the kick they needed, or perhaps will be remembered as a deathblow at seasons end.
I believe there is more fortitude to this Falcon team than to fold.