Ball State vs. Wyoming: Game Preview, How to Watch, Livestream, Odds, Prediction
The Cowboys head to Colorado Springs to take on the Air Force Academy to open up conference play.
Wyoming looks to open conference play strong against Air Force.
WEEK 6: Wyoming Cowboys (4-0) vs. Air Force Falcons (4-1)
WHEN: Saturday, October 9th, 5:00 PM MT/4:00 PM PT
WHERE: Falcon Stadium; Colorado Springs, CO
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAMING: FuboTV — Get a 7-day free trial
RADIO: The Wyoming broadcast can be found throughout the state on the affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network, including flagship 1240 AM (KFBC) in Cheyenne. The Air Force broadcast can be found in Colorado Springs on 740 AM (KVOR) or streamed via Air Force All-Access
SERIES RECORD: Air Force leads the all-time Series 29-26-3. Head-to-head between Craig Bohl and Troy Calhoun: Wyoming Leads 4-2
LAST WEEK: Wyoming is coming off the team’s bye week. Air force is coming off a sound 38-10 victory over New Mexico.
ODDS: Air Force -6
SP+ PROJECTION: Air Force by 4.2
FEI PROJECTION: Air Force by 11.2
Quote of the Week: “We consider it a rivalry game…You go in our locker room, it’s a rivalry game. Maybe it’s not to Coach Calhoun, but it is to us.” -Craig Bohl
Wyoming’s bye week has come and gone, and the Cowboys prepare to travel to the Air Force Academy to take on the Falcons on Saturday. Coach Craig Bohl had this to say about the bye week and the matchup with Air Force on Saturday, “The price of poker has gone up and this is a big, big ballgame. We’re excited the bye week came where it did. I think we utilized it well.”
The series between Wyoming and Air Force has been a tight one. Since Troy Calhoun took over as Head Coach of the Falcons, Air Force is (7-6) against Wyoming, however since Craig Bohl took over as the Head Coach of the Cowboys, Wyoming leads the series 4-2. Over the last six meetings between these two teams there is a single touchdown difference favoring Wyoming. This game will be a serious test for both teams, and if the Cowboys can come away from this game unscathed, they will emerge as the front runner in the Mountain Division of the conference.
Here is how Wyoming can come out of Colorado Springs 1-0 this week.
Three Keys to a Cowboy Victory
1. Solid Linebacker Play
Air Force comes into this game with the most potent rushing attack in college football, averaging 367.4 yards per game. This comes in large part from the Falcons offense being based around the triple option. Option teams can be notoriously hard to defend because the design of option schemes is creating leverage. The Air Force offense thrives when it leverages opponents out of position to make plays. A basic example of this is when the offense overloads the line and blocking scheme to pin the defense inside, before pitching the ball outside at the last second. With the defense pinned inside, space is created for the runner to thrive on the outside. A good indicator of how the Wyoming defense will fare against the Air Force offense will be how the Cowboys’ middle linebackers Chad Muma and Easton Gibbs are playing. If Muma and Gibbs are staying disciplined and disruptive, the Cowboys will fare better against the Falcons. If these two can keep Air Force Quarterback Haaziq Daniels contained, it will go a long way to slowing down the Falcons. Daniels is the Falcons’ second leading rusher, averaging 5.9 yards per carry, and has scored 8 rushing touchdowns. Daniels only passes the ball on average 6.6 times per game, but when he does pass, he averages 11.6 yards per attempt. Muma and Gibbs need to keep their eyes disciplined and not get caught up in the motion and frill of the offense. If they do get caught up in the motion, the Falcons will take advantage in the passing game.
2. Limit the Falcons’ Game Clock Control
One of the biggest advantages to Air Force’s option scheme and run heavy offense is the way that they control the game clock, dominating time of possession. If we look at time of possession in percentages, Air Force has had possession 62.5% of the time this season. This alone shortens games for opposing teams and takes away possessions. In the Falcons’ lone loss this year, Utah State was able to cut down that time of possession percentage for Air Force to 55%. In victories since 2019, the Falcons have had an average time of possession around 59%, whereas in losses, their time of possession has averaged around 53%. What this translates to is: if a team can limit Air Force’s ability to control the clock, they are increasing their chances to beat the Falcons. The Cowboys can limit Air Force in this regard by being aggressive on defense, especially on first and second down. If the Cowboys can force Air Force into a lot of third and long downs, it will go a long way toward a Wyoming win. On the offensive side of the ball, the longer Wyoming can keep the Air Force offense off the field, the better off the Cowboys will be.
3. Rely on the Offensive Playmakers
Sean Chambers comes into this game 13-3 as a starter for the Cowboys, but because of injuries Air Force has only had to face him for a couple series over the past three years. In 2018, Chambers was injured in the first quarter against Air Force, in 2019 Chambers was injured in a game against Nevada a month before facing Air Force, and in 2020 he was injured during the first series in the first game. This will need to be a big game for the Wyoming quarterback, both through the air and on the ground. Prior to this year Sean Chambers was averaging 98.4 yards per game passing, and 173 yards per game total offense. In 2021 Chambers is averaging 187.5 yards per game in the passing game alone. Prior to this year Chambers had a career completion percentage of 46.3, but he has bumped that up to 58.2 this season. 58 percent isn’t anything to write home about, but the amount of improvement must be noted. Sean Chambers may not have the eye-popping stats, but he is the unquestioned leader of this offense, and he shows up in big games and big moments; he will need to show up against these Falcons. The Cowboys’ other big play makers, specifically Xazavian Valladay and Titus Swen, will also need to bring their A-game. Air Force has a top 15 defense in the country against the run statistically, but there is reason to believe that Wyoming can find success running the football against the Falcons’ defense. While Air Force is holding their opponents to 89.6 yards per game on the ground, this is misleading, because on a per-attempt basis, the Falcons are holding their opponents (excluding Navy) to close to their season averages per rushing attempt, and in the case of FAU, the Falcons gave up two yards more per attempt compared to FAU’s average. Xazavian Valladay should be able to make his presence felt early and often in this game, and I expect him to have his best game of the year so far.
This has been a close matchup each of the past 6 years, with the combined difference in score being 7 points. Wyoming is coming into the game rested after a bye week, and the Cowboys will shine in their first conference test of the season, keeping with their attitude to go 1-0 for the week.
Wyoming 34, Air Force 28
Find the Air Force Preview for this game here