2021 SP+ Projections Are Out
Breaking Down the Schedule by Degree of Difficulty
Earlier this spring, the SP+ Projections were released, and we looked at the Air Force schedule, using their SP+ ranking, relative to their competition to see how they stack up. If you missed it, you can take a look at that breakdown HERE.
As great as the SP+ is, especially for pot stirring, there are a lot of lesser tangible aspects that get lost. This is especially true for Service Academies, in this particular case, Air Force and the returning talent from taking Turnback years in 2020. Considering some of those lesser defined elements to predicting a teams win potential, we’ve constructed a very preliminary assessment on the Falcons schedule, and presumed results by tier of difficulty.
Preseason SP+ projections for the Mountain West:
39. Boise State
78. Fresno State
81. San Jose State
84. San Diego State
93. Air Force
96. Colorado State
121. Utah State
124. New Mexico https://t.co/nyzlyRuU6v
— Mountain West Wire (@MWCwire) February 9, 2021
CUPCAKE (Lafayette College/UNLV/New Mexico)
The ritual FCS game to kickoff the season is back in 2021 after a hiatus last year. And to nobody’s surprise, the Falcons should take care of business with little to no resistance against the Leopards. And despite their ambitions to try and build their programs, New Mexico and UNLV respectively should not pose any real threat to Air Force.
SHOULD WIN (Navy/Colorado State/Florida Atlantic/Utah State)
Navy is rarely a ‘given’ in the win column, especially after a losing season. Unfortunately for the Mids, they don’t look drastically improved over a porous 2020 team. CSU and FAU are similar in they both tend to bring in some talented transfers, but where they have diverged is in success. The Owls have done a very nice job overall in the last few years competing in C-USA, where the Rams seem to be stuck in neutral, even catching reverse occasionally. For CSU, this is despite having some elite playmakers, year after year. The Aggies are a real unknown for 2021. It’d be very easy to write them off based on recent history, but Blake Anderson is a very good coach, and he’s brought in a lot of new talent through the transfer portal. The Falcons should win each of these games, but the could lose if the right- or wrong, circumstances occurred.
+3 Wins +1 Loss
50/50 (San Diego State/Wyoming/Army)
The Aztecs have owned Air Force in recent history, but much of that success may be attributed to their previous head coach, Rocky Long. Regardless of the coach, or even an anemic offense, San Diego State has proven to be a tall order for opposing offenses. Army and Wyoming are very similar in that, they have an identity, and stay very true to that. The Cadets from West Point have turned the tide in a series that was historically dominated by the Falcons. Wyoming has routinely presented a challenge with very physical play and a stingy defense.
+1 Win +2 Losses
EXPECT TURBULENCE (Nevada/Boise State)
There is not a game on the schedule that is “unwinnable”. There are however, two matchups that are problematic, particularly due to matchup problems posed by opposing offenses skill position units. The Broncos could have named their score against Air Force last season (and kind of did) with their backup quarterback. Well, all of that talent is back in Boise. Granted, the Falcon defense will be getting a nice injection of its own with returning players, but this is a tall order. The story is very similar for Nevada, though they did not meet last season. The Wolf Pack is loaded at the skill positions, and have a nightmare matchup at tight end.
The Falcons biggest opportunity to register in the win column versus either of these teams is to have their offense hitting on all cylinders. The Air Force offense could be quite problematic for both defenses, probably even more so Nevada. They could certainly use a Weston Steelhammer type performance, helping inflict six turnovers if they want to start a new winning streak against Boise.
+1 Win +1 Loss
Bright lights, big opponents 👊
A LOT of opportunities to watch the Falcons in 2021 ✈️
— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) May 27, 2021
FINALS RESULTS (8-4)
There is no reason Air Force won’t earn a bowl invitation in 2021, but more importantly they could make a push in the Mountain Division. The top priority, being the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy is causing serious separation anxiety in Colorado Springs. There is no promise its destine to return to their mantle this year, despite a proud history of winning it.
Eight wins is a very reasonable, even conservative number. The ceiling would be an undefeated team (11-0), but that would be an ‘all bounces go their way’ campaign. There are some really good players back for 2021, but completely replacing the whole offensive line can’t be ignored.
All things considered; a New Years Six ceiling, with a Bowl Invitation floor is not a bad place to sit in May.