Three Keys Revisited: Armed Forces Bowl
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Three Keys Revisited: Armed Forces Bowl

A season which started with so much promise ended with a whimper as Rice shut down the Air Force offense in the second half winning the Armed Forces Bowl. This marks the first year since 2005 in which the Falcons have lost to Army, Navy, lost the bowl game, and as a result had a losing season. Here is a look back at what went wrong in Fort Worth.

A season which started with so much promise ended with a whimper as Rice shut down the Air Force offense in the second half winning the Armed Forces Bowl. This marks the first year since 2005 in which the Falcons have lost to Army, Navy, lost the bowl game, and as a result had a losing season. Here is a look back at what went wrong in Fort Worth.

1) Reverse the momentum

Air Force actually did a outstanding job of stopping the momentum Rice had coming into the game and took a 14-7 lead into the break. In a first half, which was highlighted by quarterback changes by both teams, the Falcons took the most of their breaks and opportunities to give themselves a real chance in the second half. Unfortunately that is where it all went wrong and the adjustments made by the Owls coaching staff proved decisive in the game.

2) Win the rushing battle

If you were to make a list of ways in which Air Force could lose this game the rushing attack being stopped would be right at the bottom. Rice, remember, came into the game giving up almost 200 yards per game on the ground so there was no way that the nation's no. 2 ranked rushing game would have any trouble getting rolling. When all was said and done Air Force rushed for just 166 yards while Rice went for 208. Most perplexing for the Falcons was the fact that over the final two quarters they ran for just 24 yards and couldn't keep the defense off the field.

3) Bring new wrinkles to the option

By the second half Rice looked so comfortable defending the ball that you almost thought they were in the Air Force huddle. With Connor Dietz out and Kale Pearson in Air Force did try to pass more, but Pearson was just 2-of-8 on the day and did little to nothing after leading the two first half scoring drives. The main problem was the fact that Air Force just couldn't get the ball. With Rice seemingly running and passing at will, and with the Falcons contributing to their own demise with three turnovers, the Owls finished with a 2:1 of possession ratio. That should never happen to an option heavy team.