Air Force vs. Wyoming: Game Preview, How to Watch, Odds Prediction
Can the Falcons End Their Three Game Losing Streak in Laramie?
Contact/Follow @Sean or @MWCWire
Mountain Division Rivals: Falcons and Pokes
WEEK 3: Wyoming Cowboys (2-1) vs. Air Force Falcons (2-0)
WHEN: Friday, September 16th — 6:00 PM MT/5:00 PM PT
WHERE: War Memorial Stadium (Laramie, WY)
WEATHER: Chance of rain, high of 69 degrees
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAMING: With FuboTV, you can get a free seven-day trial which includes CBS.
RADIO: KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs, 104.3 the Fan in Denver; SIRIUS 388, SXM App 978
Jim Arthur (play-by-play), Jesse Kurtz (analyst)
SERIES RECORD: Air Force leads the all-time series 30-26 (3 ties). Last Year the Falcons Defeated Wyoming 24-14.
LAST WEEK: Air Force beat Colorado 41-10, while Wyoming defeated Northern Colorado 33-10.
WEBSITES: GoWyo.com, the official Wyoming University athletics website | GoAirForceFalcons.com, the official Air Force athletics website
GAME NOTES (PDF): Wyoming | Air Force
SP+ PROJECTION: Air Force by 18.8
FEI PROJECTION: Air Force by 15.6
Week three of the College Football season marks the start of Mountain Division play for both Wyoming and Air Force. After a rocky start to the year against Illinois, the Cowboys have since won consecutive games. Opposite them, the Falcons are fresh off another win over a PAC12 opponent, after slaughtering Colorado last week 41-10.
Both teams look to have things headed in the right direction, but neither are without flaws. Despite two big wins, Air Force has been coughing the ball up at an alarming rate. Wyoming on the other-hand is trying to get their footing on offense, specifically with a balanced passing game. If you look at the numbers, they certainly are trending in the right direction. Yes, competition may have something to do with it, facing an FCS opponent last week. But overall, the Pokes should be encouraged with the improved offensive and defensive performances week over week.
The teams from Laramie are never an easy out for Air Force. Between the Cowboys momentum and turnover concerns with the Falcons, Troy Calhoun’s squad had better buckle their chin-straps and protect the ball as they head North to take on Wyoming.
The @MountainWest 𝐎𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐞𝐞𝐤‼️ pic.twitter.com/8C5NUufskh
— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) September 12, 2022
Three Keys to an Air Force Victory
1. Protect the rock
It goes without saying, teams should always avoid turning the ball over. But in a game where both teams want to run the ball and reduce possessions for their opponent, it really is magnified. Oh, and the fact that Air Force has already lost five fumbles in just two games suggests there is merit to this emphasis.
Wyoming has given the ball away four times this season too, three of which have been fumbles. So both teams have shown a propensity to get loose with the ball, and neither wants to continue that trend.
If either team gets too generous with turnovers, it will lead to their ultimate demise. The Falcons can’t count on another anomaly of a game which saw them give the ball away three times and still hammer their opponent by 30 points, as they did last week.
2. rewind to 2020 andrew peasley
Not to open an old wound, but let’s not forget that part of last seasons implosion against Utah State wasn’t just another Logan Bonner led attack. Actually, Andrew Peasley gutted the Air Force defense primarily with his arm, but also did damage with his legs.
When the dust settled on the game that ultimately cost Air Force a trip to the Conference Championship; Peasley completed 67% of his passes for 195 yards, and three touchdowns. He was completing passes at nearly 20 yards a clip. He also chipped in 29 yards on the ground. This can’t happen again.
Instead, the Falcons need a repeat 2020 Peasley performance. This game saw Air Force pick off the now Wyoming quarterback twice, and sack him two times as well. His eight yards per completion were much more modest also.
3. find balance
Air Force will never get confused with being part of college football’s current pass crazy regime. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a key installment to their gameplan. Last week saw Haaziq Daniels complete just one pass on five attempts. They didn’t exactly need to open up the pass game, and when they did, the weather certainly didn’t help.
This week may prove to be a little different. Wyoming doesn’t usually yield yards easily on the ground, and everyone knows that is where the Falcons make hay. The passing game proved to be a key to their victory in 2021, as the lone second half touchdown for Air Force came on the arm of Daniels.
The Falcons quarterback finished the game averaging 11 yards per attempt, completing 70% of those passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. Those aren’t air raid numbers, but they do reflect the added element to their game that poses a threat to a defense that wants to commit eight defenders to stopping the run. Getting Kinamon, Patterson and crew involved will go a long way to opening up the run game.
𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭 ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/OhTasUiRmR
— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) September 11, 2022
Even in “down years”, Wyoming is a team that I always dignify as an opponent that can beat the Falcons. I think my insecurities will always be deeply seeded in that 2014 loss, which Colby Kirkegaard led the Pokes past an eventual 10 win Air Force squad. That was a very good team that Troy Calhoun had, and they were one of only three FBS teams that Wyoming beat that year.
We are eight years removed from that stumble, and it’s not as if Air Force hasn’t experienced success in recent years. They’ve won the last two matchups. As the series goes, they have split the last six, so these two have a pretty good volley going overall.
Turnovers are really going to be an interesting factor in this years tilt. We touched on the fumbles earlier, but the counter to that would be how the Air Force defense has five takeaways of it’s own already. Camby Goff has had a great start to the year, picking off a pass in each game thus far to compliment the teams three fumble recoveries. Wyoming has forced four turnovers of their own through three games, but are -1 in turnover margin (Air Force is even).
As much commentary as I’ve placed on the running backs turning the ball over, I received some great perspective from my friend and fellow Air Force contributor @NittanyFalcon with the mwcconnection.com; he pointed out a majority of these fumbles came from depth players. Which is a fair point. You have to hope that as games get tighter and starters are playing well through the third quarter in games, these types of sloppy plays will clean themselves up. Just so long as Easton Gibbs doesn’t pull a Justin Rice type performance, circa 2021 Utah State. Better to occur against an FCS opponent, than in the throes of Mountain West divisional play.
So with less concern around the turnovers, the other critical factor is how the play of quarterback Andrew Peasley will translate this year. He’s an athletic guy whose proven inconsistent in the pass game thus far. He’s not surrounded by NFL recievers or Blake Anderson’s offense any longer, so the Air Force defense could make things quite difficult for the signal caller.
I expect a competitive game to the very end. But the Air Force defense has matched the offenses play so far, and that offense is relentless. Yards wont come easy against this stiff run defense, but the Falcons have the playmakers to put enough points on the board to topple the Pokes at their own altitude.
The losing streak at Laramie ends Friday.
Air Force 27, Wyoming 16