Air Force vs. Northern Iowa: Game Preview, How to Watch, Prediction
The Falcons get the 2022 season underway against FCS Northern Iowa. Here’s how to tune in and what to watch for against the Panthers.
What should we expect from the Falcons?
WEEK 1: Northern Iowa Panthers vs. United States Air Force Academy
WHEN: Saturday, September 3rd — 11:00 AM MT/10:00 AM PT
WHERE: Falcon Stadium; Colorado Springs, CO
WEATHER: Sunny, high of 84 degrees
STREAMING: Mountain West Network
The Mountain West Network should also be available for streaming on a handful of smart TV platforms, as well as through the mobile app available on Apple and Android. You can learn more about how to access all of those at this link.
RADIO: KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs, CO, 104.3 the Fan in Denver, SXM App 972– Jim Arthur (play-by-play), Jesse Kurtz (analyst)
SERIES RECORD: This is the first meeting between Air Force and Northern Iowa.
SP+ PROJECTION: Air Force by 16.8
The 2022 season gets underway for Air Force with a matchup against a ranked opponent in the Northern Iowa Panthers. Yes, UNI is a FCS ranked opponent, but a ranked opponent nonetheless. With that jest aside, the Panthers will likely be the most formidable opening day FCS game that Troy Calhoun has faced in his 16-year tenure as head coach.
A program most recently noted for their production of 2022 first round NFL Draft pick Trevor Penning, the Panthers are coming off an impressive 2021 campaign that included victories over two top-ten opponents on their way to a playoff berth. They also have the experience of a 22-year head coach in Mark Farley, who has guided the program to 168 career victories. No surprise he is the program’s all-time winningest head coach.
In case you’re wondering, Air Force has never lost to an FCS opponent. This won’t be the normal opening day tune up game, though, so the Falcons had better come prepared.
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) August 30, 2022
Three Keys to an Air Force Victory
1. START FAST
Northern Iowa isn’t going to care that Air Force hasn’t lost to an FCS opponent. This is a very experienced Panthers team coming to Colorado Springs, so don’t expect them to be shook. They will feature 21 returning starters from last year, of which three are preseason first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference players: Linebacker Spencer Cuvelier, defensive back Benny Sapp III, and kicker Matthew Cook (UNI also landed another six on the second team).
It will serve the Falcons well to start fast on offense, and get stops early on defense. The adage is that “defense travels”, and if 2021 is any indication, Northern Iowa’s should be solid. This is a mature team that Air Force doesn’t want gaining confidence as the game wears on, by keeping it close.
Execute on offense, and with those limited opposing possessions, the defense should be able to help take over. The sooner the two work in harmony, the better. By doing that you can place a few bucks in your favor or just have fun with an online casino real money.
2. CREATE RHYTHM
Speaking of harmony, that’s really at the core of what Air Force does. Whether it’s the intricacies of the triple option or the interdependence between the offense, defense and special teams, an effective offense will keep the defense rested and more capable of putting pressure on the opposition. When this balance is struck, the Falcons can suffocate you.
3. STAY HEALTHY
If the first two keys to success are met, there is a good likelihood that some of those critical depth players will get meaningful repetitions. This is something that pays dividends throughout the grind of an entire season.
In Air Force’s case, keeping your team healthy, particularly the starting core, is going to be a priority with the Colorado Buffaloes from the Pac-12 coming to town the following week. Taking care of business early against this FCS opponent will help secure Week 2 health, but it will also provide valuable experience throughout the position groups.
— UNI Football (@UNIFootball) August 29, 2022
As mentioned, Northern Iowa is very experienced so I wouldn’t expect the stage to be too big for them. However, they are going to be playing against a team that is quite experienced in their own right. And more notably, Air Force is very deep and seasoned on the offensive line, which is really the (Diesel) engine that drives them.
The Panthers are a quality FCS opponent with three all-conference players on their defense. They may be able to keep this game within two scores for a half. Quarterback Theo Day and the offense will have to be at their very best to push it into the fourth quarter. But I expect the Falcon offense to be unrelenting paired with a stout run defense that will slowly overwhelm them as the game wears on. Air Force by 17.
Air Force 31, Northern Iowa 14