HEAD TO HEAD: AIR FORCE VS. SAN DIEGO STATE

Air Force hosts San Diego State on Thursday. Falcons Report's D.T. Yates compares the two teams in several critical areas. We also make a prediction on the game's final score.

AIR FORCE PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
SAN DIEGO STATE PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: The Falcons are led by sophomore quarterback Karson Roberts. Roberts is the third signal caller for Air Force to start this season completing 14 for 30 pass attempts for 207 yards and three touchdowns. Roberts has thrown two interceptions this season but his three touchdowns include every Falcon touchdown reception this season.

Senior receiver Ty MacArthur is second on the team with seven receptions for 99 yards receiving. MacArthur has been out the last three weeks with an injury. Freshman receiver Jalen Robinette is third on the team with six receptions for 129 yards receiving and a team best two touchdowns. Junior receiver Sam Gagliano leads Air Force with 10 receptions for 144 yards receiving and one touchdown. Gagliano has led the Falcons in receiving in three straight games.

Aztec cornerback J.J. Whittaker has posted 16 tackles and a team high seven passes defended. Opposite Whittaker is fellow junior King Holder who is second on the team with 29 tackles, including one for a loss, with four passes defended. Senior Nat Berhe is on the Jim Thorpe watch list after a 2012 season that saw him win second-team all-MW honors. Berhe leads the Aztecs with 38 tackles, including one for a loss, and two fumble recoveries. Seniors Gabe Lemon and Eric Pinkins hold down the other secondary positions with Pinkins leading the paid with 24 tackles, including 3?½ for a loss, two fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles. San Diego State ranks 118th in the country with opponents averaging 306.2 yards passing per game against the Aztecs.

AIR FORCE RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
SAN DIEGO STATE RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: AIR FORCE
REMARKS: Sophomore quarterback Karson Roberts rushed for a career high and season high for the Falcons in his first career start at Nevada. Roberts is fourth on the team with 206 yards rushing, averaging 5.7 yards per rush, and two touchdowns. Junior running back Jon Lee leads the team averaging 6.9 yards per rush. Lee has 49 rushing carries for 339 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and is the current leader of all active players with 148 carries for 1,006 yards rushing. Junior fullback Broam Hart leads the Falcons with 359 yards rushing with three rushing touchdowns. Last week against Navy he ran for a team high 67 yards rushing on 18 carries. The Falcons currently rank 11th in the country, averaging 285.17 yards rushing per game. San Diego State has allowed 227 yards rushing on 105 carries over its last three games. Aztec senior defensive end Jordan Thomas has the most experience among their defensive line with 44 games and 25 starts. Thomas has tallied 11 tackles, including two for a loss, and a sack in five contests. Junior Cody Galea has started at defensive end in 14 consecutive games for the Aztecs and has 10 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. Outside linebacker Nick Tenhaeff leads SDSU with six tackles for a loss, and one sack. The senior leader has a plethora of experience, playing in 44 straight games for the Aztecs. Senior Vaness Harris posted a career high eight tackles in his first start of the season against Ohio State. Junior middle linebacker Josh Gavert has started two games for the Aztecs and has posted 20 tackles, including 3½ for a loss, a sack, and a fumble recovery returned for 42 yards against Nevada. The Aztecs rank 39th in the country with opponents averaging 132.4 yards rushing per game against them.

SAN DIEGO STATE RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
AIR FORCE RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: True freshman running back Donnel Pumphrey has been outstanding for San Diego State, averaging a team high 7.5 yards per rush this season. Last week he posted an Aztec season long 72-yard rush for a score against the Wolf Pack. Pumphrey leads the team with 332 yards rushing and four rushing scores this season. Junior running back Adam Muema also had a nice game against Nevada last week when he ran for 134 yards rushing in the overtime victory. Muema leads the team with 75 carries, averaging 3.4 yards per rush, with three rushing touchdowns. Blocking for the pair is senior fullback Chad Young who has played in 36 consecutive games for the Aztecs. Young has five carries for 26 yards rushing this season, and posted a career high 11-yard rush against NMSU. The Aztecs rank 81st nationally averaging 145.40 yards rushing per game. Junior linebacker Joey Nichol leads the Falcons and is tied for third in the Mountain West averaging 9.5 tackles per game, with 57 tackles this season. Nichol posted at least 10 tackles in four straight games, while leading Air Force in each. Next to Nichols at inside linebacker is Spencer Proctor who is tied for third on the team with 41 tackles, with a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble. Sophomore Reggie Barnes has 34 tackles this season including 2½ for a loss, and has averaged 7 tackles per game over the last three matchups. Opposite Barnes is sophomore Kristov George who had a career best 10 tackles two weeks ago against Nevada. George has tallied 18 tackles, including two for a loss in six games this season. Freshman nose guard David Harris has started the last two games for the Falcons and played in all six games tallying 12 tackles and one quarterback hurry. Senior nose guard Dana Luebbe has his best game of the season against Navy with eight tackles. Defensive end Nick Fitzgerald leads Air Force defensive linemen with 17 tackles after tallying a team best eight tackles and a half a sack last week against Navy. Alex Hansen is second among the defensive line with 16 tackles, the freshman had a season high six tackles, including one for a loss against the Mids.

SAN DIEGO STATE PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
AIR FORCE PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: SAN DIEGO STATE
REMARKS: Aztec quarterback Quinn Kaehle has been on a hot streak lately, eclipsing 200 yards passing in each of the last four games. Last week against Nevada, the junior completed 23 for 32 pass attempts for 286 yards passing and three touchdown passes. Junior receiver Ezell Ruffin is the favorite receiving target and leads the team with 24 receptions for 369 yards passing. Ruffin averages 15.4 yards per receptions and has seven catches for 20 yards or more this season. Senior Colin Lockett is second on the team with 21 receptions for 279 yards receiving and one touchdown. Lockett has played in four games for the Aztecs this season and is one catch away from his 100th career reception. Senior Dylan Denso caught a 25-yard touchdown pass last week against Nevada for the Aztecs first score. Denso has 12 career starts and is third on the team with nine receptions for 107 yards receiving and one score. The Aztecs have five other receiving targets with seven or more catches this season and rank 46th in the country averaging 260 yards passing per game. Junior free safety Christian Spears has the most experience among the Falcon secondary with well over 100 tackles in his career. Spears is second on the team with 43 tackles, with a team best two interceptions and two passes defended. Junior strong safety Jamal Byrd has 30 tackles, an interception, and a pass defended this season. Senior cornerback Chris Miller missed the last two games against due to an injury and posted seven tackles the week before against Wyoming. Miller started all 13 games for the Falcons a season ago and was seventh on the team with 56 tackles. Senior Steffon Batts is tied for third on the team with 41 tackles, and is second on the team with three passes defended. Batts also started all 13 games for Air Force last season. Sophomore Gavin McHenry had a career high 11 tackles against Nevada, which is tied for the team lead. McHenry leads the Falcons with five passes defended and with one fumble recovery.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Junior place kicker Will Conant has hit 77.8 percent of field goal attempts this season. Conant's longest this season was a 52-yard field goal in the opener against Colgate. Senior punter David Baska averages 40.2 yards per punt and has downed opponents inside their 20 yard like seven times this season. Last week against Navy he boomed a season long 57 yard punt. Senior running back Anthony LaCoste has eight kickoff returns averaging 22.1 yards per return. LaCoste has a season long return of 33 yards this season. Junior receiver Sam Gagliano has handled punt return duties for the Falcons with a season long punt return of eight yards. San Diego State junior punter Joel Alesi was named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week for punting four times, averaging 50.3 yards per punt against Nevada. For the season Alesi averages 41.6 yards per punt and has pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line six times. Senior place kicker Wes Feer has connected on 8 for 10 field goal attempts this season, and is three for four from 40 yards or more. Feer's season long was a 45-yard field goal against Oregon State. Feer has missed each of his last two field goal attempts from 40 and 39 yards. Junior receiver Colin Lockett is the Aztecs' career leader with 1,710 kickoff return yards. Lockett has averaged 23.2 yards per kickoff return, with a season long of 35 yards. Senior Tim Vizzi has returned six punts this season averaging 6.5 yards per return. His season long return of 21 yards came against New Mexico State. Junior Aztec defensive tackle Sam Meredith blocked a PAT against New Mexico State.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: The Falcons have converted 48 percent of third down conversion attempts this season and 64 percent of fourth down attempts. Once in the red zone, Air Force has scored in 95 percent of trips with 14 touchdowns and seven field goals. Air Force is giving up on average 493 yards of total offense per game. The Falcons are taking a good chunk of the damage through the air where opponents have completed 154 for 205 pass attempts, averaging 270.5 yards receiving per game. The Falcons fell 28-9 last season in San Diego with turnovers leading the multiple Aztec scores. Air Force is 11-5 at home in the series and will enjoy a bye week following the game. San Diego State is finishing up a busy schedule that saw them face three opponents over the course of 13 days. The Aztecs are the only school that can still reach 3-3 after starting the season with a 0-3 record. Since 1998 only 14 teams that opened 0-3 have bounced back to 3-3 records. The Aztecs have converted just 33 percent of third down conversion attempts. On fourth-down SDSU has converted 43 percent of attempts. In red zone territory the Aztecs have scored in 79 percent of attempts with nine touchdowns and eight field goals. Defensively SDSU is allowing an average of 398 offensive yards per game, with an average of 306.2 coming through the air and 132.4 on the ground.

COACHING
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun is 29-22 in Mountain West games and has led the Falcons to a 48-36 career record. The Falcons are 19-11 in Falcon Stadium under Calhoun. Since Calhoun took the head coaching job seven years ago the Falcons have had 40 games with a 100-yard rusher, winning 29 of those contests. Calhoun is in jeopardy of his consecutive bowl streak coming to a halt at six. San Diego State head coach Rocky Long is in his third season leading the Aztecs. Long has guided the Aztecs to a 19-12 record and has a career record of 84-81 in 14 seasons. Long was the head coach at New Mexico from 1998-2008. The Aztecs have advanced to three consecutive bowl games and are coming off their first Mountain West Conference title in 2012. San Diego State is currently on an eight-game conference win streak after their 51-44 overtime victory against Nevada last week.

PREDICTION: Air Force 35, San Diego State 31

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