Air Force vs. Army: Keys to a Falcons Win, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction

Air Force vs. Army: Keys to a Falcons Win, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction

Air Force

Air Force vs. Army: Keys to a Falcons Win, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction

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Air Force vs. Army: Keys to a Falcons Win, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction


Can The Falcons Bring Home The Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy On Saturday in the Commanders Classic?


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What should we expect from Air Force vs. Army

WEEK 10: United States Air Force Academy (6-2, 3-2 Mountain West) vs. United States Military Academy (4-3)

WHEN: Saturday, November 6th — 9:30 AM MT/8:30 AM PT

WHERE: Globe Life Field — Arlington, TX

TV: CBS

STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, 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. Army will be broadcast on ‘The Army Sports Network’.

SERIES RECORD: Air Force leads the all-time series 37-17-1.

LAST WEEK: Both teams were idle in week 9.

WEBSITES: GoArmyWestPoint.com, the official Army Athletics website | GoAirForceFalcons.com, the official Air Force athletics website

GAME NOTES (PDF): Army | Air Force

ODDS (as of 11/4, via Caesars Sportsbook): Air Force -2.5

SP+ PROJECTION: Air Force by 3.4

FEI PROJECTION: Air Force by 3.6

Somehow we have already arrived at the tenth week of the college football season. While much of the landscape is scrutinizing the perceived bias or in some cases ineptitude of the college football playoff committee, those headlines and polarizing as they may be take a back seat this week.

It’s here, Beat Army week! The rivalry between current Commander-in-Chief’s trophy possessors, Army, and Air Force gets renewed Saturday morning in Arlington, TX. In it’s inaugural season, the ‘Commanders Classic’ will be played at Globe Life field, and will be the first ever football game to grace said venue.

It’s fitting that a fertile recruiting ground in Texas, with a beautiful new stadium is the setting for what will be the most physical and bitterly contested game in the country. Pick a school, team or sport even, the passion and intensity delivered in the Air Force- Army game will be unrivaled on Saturday.

Army enters the contest fresh off of a bye, as do the Falcons. Similar to Air Force, the West Point Cadets are also entering the matchup off of a loss to a ranked team. The Black Knights however suffered two defeats prior to their scoreboard breaking loss to Wake Forest in Week eight, leaving them on a three game skid.

Known for their stout defense under Coach Jeff Monken, Army surrendered 70 points in their last game to the Demon Deacons at home. The Falcons shouldn’t get too excited though, because the Black Knights put up 56 points of their own in the loss, that’s just six less than Air Force has scored collectively in their last three games.

While the Army defense may have taken a step back from last years dominance, a thriving offense may be more than suffice to make up the difference. Nothing comes easy when playing their CiC foes for the day, so the Falcons had better come to Arlington prepared.

Three Keys to an Air Force Victory

1. LEARN FROM LAST YEAR

Were it not for a full on implosion in 2020, the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy would be have been resting in Colorado Springs for the last 11 months.  Unfortunately, a meltdown of epic proportions was the reality.

There wasn’t one single things that kept Army in last years contest, but a preponderance of errors on the part of the Falcons. This included; failed field goal attempts while in the Army side of the field (despite poor kicking performance on the year), lack of commitment to an effective running attack, and most egregiously, throwing the ball late in the game despite holding a lead.

The previously described is the antithesis of who Air Force is, and what they do. Worse yet, Army stayed resolute to their very nature and it paid off. If even parts of those same concerns rear again on Saturday, it could very well result in another long offseason without that all important CiC hardware.

2. clean up your act

The Falcons have enjoyed a lot of good fortune when it comes to fumbles most of the year, despite the fact they have put the ball on the ground far too often. Haaziq Daniels in particular would do well secure the ball in traffic and otherwise, as despite some spectacular play, the misfortune of the turnover has befallen him in very critical times.

It’s certainly not all on Daniels when it comes to clean play, such as protecting the ball. Air Force can ill afford turnovers at all. They also cannot afford to put themselves behind the chains or presumed passing situations with penalties.

Both teams offenses have put the ball on the ground 13 times, with the Falcons losing four of them, and Army surrendering three. A very stiff Aztec defense took full advantage of some uncharacteristic and sloppy play by Air Force. You can rest assured that a game Army defense will do the very same.

3. respect a more versatile army offense

Let’s be clear, if Army wants to drop back and throw the ball all game, that would be a welcome approach by the Falcons. Sporting one of the best defenses in the country, Air Force is going to have to be prepared for the big play potential. Army has multiple ball carriers who can rip off a big run, not to mention a resurgent, albeit selective, passing attack.

There very well may be a quarterback by committee from West Point, but don’t let that lure you into the “if you have more than one quarterback, you don’t any quarterbacks” mode of thinking. Army has quarterbacks with distinct skillsets, and when healthy, Christian Anderson in particular, has provided a punch in both the run and pass game, averaging 14 yards per pass attempt and over seven yards per carry. In case your wondering, he’s also yet to throw and interception (three touchdown passes).

Even if Anderson isn’t 100%, or maybe doesn’t see the field, remember that Tyhier Tyler who led Army past Air Force last year was buried four deep on their depth chart. This is a more potent offense than the Falcons faced in 2020.

Conclusion

On average, Army is scoring about five points per game more than Air Force, while the Falcons surrender 10 few points per game. So Air Force wins by five, right, just that easy? Not quite.

I mentioned both teams put the ball on the ground 13 times, but it’s Air Force who has recovered six of the 14 fumbles their opponents have surrendered. Compare that to Army who has two recoveries on just four fumbles. The Falcons must continue the trend of opponents who protect the ball against the Black Knights, all the while letting their nasty defense do their thing.

Offensively, the Falcons can surprise teams at times with a big pass after wearing them down with the run, don’t expect that to be the case on Saturday. In fact, if you are an Air Force fan, you should hope you don’t need, or as unfortunately remembered by last years game, try to unnecessarily put the ball in the air. Wake Forest’s pass game is a completely different animal than what they do in Colorado Springs, so any desires of leaning on the pass game because of other teams success may lead to your own peril.

While injuries can pose to be an “X-Factor” any given week, despite key personnel missing, the Falcons have gotten great play from their depth. That will need to be a continued theme with the injuries to key starters piling up. As always, I’ll give the disclaimer to ignore the depth chart that gets released because there are starters listed in multiple skill positions and defensive line that will not be playing.

Those are a lot of variables and influences that can be the difference in Air Force ending a painful drought that hasn’t seen them claim the holy hardware since 2016. When you think of how dominant they had been in this series, at some point, that history is going to be moot if they can’t put two complete games together against their brethren at the Academies.

Army is on a three game skid, but they are not losses against inferior teams, which is typically what their schedule is heavy with. So to say the Falcons are playing a reeling team is not accurate. They are playing a team that his been better at what they do in the recent years, and that has to be painful to observe.

The drought can’t carry on, can it? Brad Roberts should be healthy and game for 30 carries, the defense is lights out and a smart coaching staff has learned from past mistakes. Roberts never fumbles, the defense stops the run. It’s a simple formula in theory, and one that could go a long way to adding some hardware to the vacant spot on their mantle.

It’s a formula that I’ll defer to in anticipating a very narrow Air Force victor.

Falcons sing second, the drought is over and the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy comes back to ‘the Springs’!

Air Force 16- Army 14 

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