Air Force vs. Wyoming: Keys to a Falcons Win, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Falcons and Pokes Renew Their Rivalry After a Year Off
What should we expect from the Falcons vs. the Pokes?
WEEK 6: United States Air Force Academy (4-1, 1-1 Mountain West) vs. University of Wyoming (4-0, 0-0 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, October 9th — 5:00 PM MT/6:00 PM PT
WHERE: Falcon Stadium — Colorado Springs, CO
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes FS2, by following this link.
RADIO: The Air Force broadcast can be found in Colorado Springs on 740 AM (KVOR) or streamed via Air Force All-Access. The Wyoming broadcast can be found on 1240 AM (KFBC), Cheyenne, Wyo.
SERIES RECORD: Air Force leads the all-time series 229-26-3, winning the last meeting in 2019. The 2019 Air Force win came after three consecutive Wyoming victories.
LAST WEEK: Air Force defeated New Mexico 38-10, while Wyoming was idle on bye.
ODDS (as of 10/6, via Caesars Sportsbook): Air Force -6
SP+ PROJECTION: Air Force by 4.2
FEI PROJECTION: Air Force by 11.2
We’re already at the sixth week of the season, and for two very familiar Mountain Division foes, Air Force and Wyoming, they find themselves in the thick of what appears to be a wide open divisional race. Let’s clarify, wide open for any Mountain Division team that’s not named New Mexico.
After a cakewalk in Albuquerque last week, the Falcons are going up a weight class, taking on the only remaining unbeaten team in the division. The Wyoming Cowboys are strolling down I-25 to Colorado Springs on Saturday, and they travel with a pretty complete team on a bus that should be brimming with confidence.
The Pokes won’t be the only confident team on the field this weekend, as Air Force has been hitting on all cylinders the past few weeks. Well, the offense and defense have been dominant at least, while the kicking game is still trying to get their footing.
From an offensive perspective, the Cowboy offenses recipe for success isn’t all that different than Air Force. This is a physically relentless unit that has been one of the nations best in Time of Possession, Red Zone Efficiency, Rushing and very rarely fumbling. Sound familiar? Red Zone success in particular is an area the Falcons aspire to more resemble their opponent this week for sure.
The calling card for Wyoming has, and continues to be their ability to defend. The Pokes Defense is top 25 nationally in Defensive Touchdowns (2nd), Pass Efficiency Defense 102.80 (10th), Sacks By (16th), Passes Intercepted (20th), Fewest First Downs Allowed (22nd) and Turnovers Gained (25th).
Air Force-Wyoming digital game program available https://t.co/5C0iDdvc1w
— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) October 6, 2021
You get the picture, this is a pretty stout opponent coming to ‘The Springs’. Unfortunately, on top of their dominance defensively, Wyoming has also enjoyed an additional week of practice to prepare for the Falcons great neutralizer, the triple option offense.
Air Force isn’t going to win this game the way they have the previous weeks, by overwhelming an inferior opponent. And throwing a number 85 jersey on an offensive tackle lined up at tight end isn’t going to secure victory either (though seeing former 3-star offensive line prospect Adam Karas road grate was fantastic). If the Falcons are to win this week, they’ll have to have earned it in a way they’ve not been forced yet in 2021. Here are a few ways they may be able to.
Three Keys to an Air Force Victory
1. don’t leave it up to special teams
Let’s be specific here, don’t let this game be decided on the foot of a kicker. The Air Force offense is 80th in the country in red zone scoring, while Wyoming is the best in the conference, and 19th nationally. When the Falcons get to the red zone, they need six.
While every point will be critical in this matchup, the confidence just isn’t there, that if a drive stalls in the red zone, they can count on Luke Strebel or Jake Koehnke for a guaranteed three points. There are no guaranteed points in the kicking game as it stands, and that’s an area Wyoming has a clear advantage with an outstanding kicker in John Hoyland.
Score in the red zone. Get the lead. Keep the lead. Don’t put designs of a last second field goal as time expires out there if your Air Force.
2. stay on schedule
This is the third time in the last four weeks that the Air Force offense will encounter an absolute game-wrecking linebacker. It seems like Wyoming is a factory, churning out big play dudes at the position, and Chad Muma holds that pattern intact.
Muma is the kind of player who can force turnovers a variety of ways as a side job, in between being a tackling machine. One of the nations best players at the position, Muma has to be accounted for if the Falcons want to stay on schedule and keep the chains moving.
In case you weren’t aware, the Air Force offense thrives or dies by constant yet modest gains. Tackles behind the line of scrimmage and third down and long scenarios are not what their scheme was built for. Consistent execution of their offense will be critical in this matchup.
3. stop the run
Air Force isn’t the only team in the conference that wants to make a living running the ball. In fact, the Pokes feature their own running back averaging over 100 yards per game on the ground, in All Conference standout Xazavian Valladay.
As much pressure and emphasis that is typically placed on the teams to stop the Falcons rushing attack, the yoke is equally weighted this week for Air Force to do the same. To date, aside from their one gaffe against Utah State, the defense has been stellar.
Complementing Valladay at running back is Titus Sween and a versatile quarterback in Sean Chambers, who will present problems with his legs as well. Don’t think stopping the run is a problem solely for the Pokes.
— Wyoming Cowboy Football (@wyo_football) September 18, 2021
Despit Troy Calhoun owning a career winning record against Wyoming (7-6), Cowboys head coach, Craig Bohl is 4-2 against Air Force. This should be the most competitive game either team has played to date. And I say that fully aware both teams have settled one score affairs already this season. This should be an extremely physical four quarter prize-fight.
Making things particularly interesting will be the absence of a number of starters for Air Force. The Falcons were missing a few players last week, and that was before Micah Davis and DeAndre Hughes both exited the game with injuries. The Falcons are going to need their depth to step up this week.
Don’t look for sympathy from Wyoming though, this is a team with Conference Championship ambitions. Undefeated entering the game, the Cowboys had some wins that seemed very impressive at the time, but have since seemed a little less spectacular. That includes a come from behind victory against all time bad, UConn in their last game.
All of these variables make this game a coin flip to guess the winner. To suggest that Air Force wins this game would be likely linked to an inclination that the defenses performance against Utah State was a true anomaly. The balance of their schedule which was shear dominance from the defense looks to be more indicative of who they are. Combine that with a currently thriving offense, and Air Force has the edge by the narrowest of margins.
The true irony comes in that I can see a converted chip shot field goal being the difference between winning and losing. And that presents the most drastic of win margins that I would anticipate in this game.
Air Force squeaks one out against a game Cowboys squad.
Air Force 24, Wyoming 23