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WEEK 13: Air Force Falcons (8-2) at New Mexico Lobos (2-8)
WHEN: Saturday, November 23 —12:00 PM MT/ 11:00 AM PT
WHERE: Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, NM
STREAMING: You can get a free seven-day trial of SlingTV by clicking here.
RADIO: Air Force | New Mexico: Lobo Radio Network 77 AM/94.5FM
SERIES RECORD: Air Force leads the series 22-14
GAME NOTES (PDF): New Mexico | Air Force
ODDS (via OddsShark): Air Force -22.5
Air Force comes into their week 13 matchup with the Lobos flying high on a five game win streak. New Mexico on the other hand will be limping in, losers of seven straight. So while the Falcons have everything to play for in front of them, including slim chances at a Mountain Division title, while the Lobos may be just looking to put this season into the books.
Though it may be unfair and irresponsible to say New Mexico is just going to fold like a lawn chair; this team would have every reason to. The adversity and distractions this team has had to deal with since January would take its toll on anyone. With all of that in mind, the task ahead is a large one; the daunting triple option offense (which New Mexico coach Bob Davie originally ran a hybrid variety of with great success) and a surging Falcon defense that is playing with a ton of confidence. Oh, and lets not dismiss special teams who recently had kicker Jake Koehnke added as a Lou Groza semi-finalist.
Lets not forget though, New Mexico has won four of the last six meetings, which includes taking three of the last four. However, the previously references that hybrid option offense that the Lobos ran at that time could be largely responsible for their success in that period. Gone is that offense, and seemingly any success for New Mexico ever since.
Three Keys to an Air Force Victory
1. Defense Shows Up
For what anyone may think about the performance of the New Mexico offense, the Falcons don’t want to be the team that gives any optimism for the end of the season and into 2020.
The fact is, Air Force has scored 35 points or more in each of the last six meetings and only won two of them. I get that these are different teams this year, but looking back, the Falcons had the “better team” multiple times, but failed to win even with all that scoring.
The defense has been trending up for weeks now. They have remained fierce against the run, ranking in the top ten nationally (even after playing two of the top three rushing offenses) and are drastically improved in the secondary. Continued outstanding play here should be the cornerstone to making it a very long day for the Lobos.
2. Leave the Identity Crisis to New Mexico
Over the last few seasons Bob Davie has deployed a ‘new look’ spread offense with the Lobos. Or as our friends Matt Kennerly and Jeremy Mauss so affectionately coined the new offensive approach as ” the Throwbos”.
Whatever they call it, it has not paid off. Not nearly the dividends at least that the previously ground heavy offensive attack once did. This was a program that was in and competing for bowls under the spread option attack, which was a big deal in New Mexico. They ranked near the top offensively in rushing in that span, only to essentially trade their shinny new Lexus in for an 81 Honda “How Dare You!?”. Employee of the Month Reference for all you movie buffs out there.
The point of this regression is, leave it to New Mexico to try and force a square peg into the round hole. The Air Force passing game is largely predicated on success running the ball, and the element of surprise. Running defenses into the ground is what Air Force (ironically) does. They should approach this week no differently.
3. Stay Healthy
Air Force shouldn’t be looking ahead to their bedlam with Wyoming the following week. But that won’t stop me, or anyone else looking at how this Division race could shape up with a Boise slip-up. There is also a lot of jockeying for Bowl placement as well, irrespective of how Boise performs relative to the Division crown.
With that said, staying healthy for their game against the Poke’s could prove critical, considering the type of physical match-up it will be. Another consider around health for this game is that Air Force will be without their primary backup quarterback, Isaiah Sanders against the Lobos. Although, the prospect of Michael Schmidt under center shouldn’t waver the confidence in the Air Force offense one bit.
Offense. Defense. Special Teams. Air Force is the better team in all three phases of the game. If they simply show up and execute, it should make for a very long game on both sides of the ball for the Lobos.
Considering all that the New Mexico Lobos football family have gone through, you can’t help but pull for them. Unfortunately, that’s not how winning football games work. But were pulling for them, no less. There is more than just football.