Wyoming Comes to Town

A once promising season for a young Air Force team is in danger of going up in smoke. Three losses by a combined 13 points, a banged up defensive unit, and a sputtering offense has pushed Air Force's season to the brink.

A win against the Cowboys will keep hope for a third consecutive bowl very much alive. A loss means the Falcons would likely have to win four out of the remaining five games in order to play in the post season. Wyoming has not beaten the Falcons in three years, but new head coach Dave Christensen has elevated the Cowboys' game. The Cowboys currently sit 4-2 and were competitive for a half against Texas. A win over Air Force will put the Cowboys in position to capture their first bowl berth since 2004.

When Wyoming has the ball

Air Force began this season with what could have been one of the best defensive units in Academy history. While there have been several key injuries, the unit continues to keep the team close in games. Air Force ranks 18th in total defense allowing 282 yards per game, leads the country in turnover margin, and has garnered 16 take aways through six games. Unfortunately, the linebacker corps has been thinned by injuries. Last year's leading tackler, Ken Lamendola, was lost for the season along with Patrick Hennessey. Andre Morris Jr. suffered a concussion against TCU and is questionable for the Wyoming game. Freshman Alex Means will start in place of Hennessey, and another freshman, Jordan Waiwaiole, will play if Andre Morris Jr. can't go. The Wyoming offense seems to have found its rhythm under freshman QB Austyn Carta-Samuels. Samuels is 3-0 as a starter, and his favorite target, David Leonard, leads the Mountain West in receptions. The Wyoming offense favors the pass, but they still boast the conference's fourth ranked rushing attack. Alvester Alexander and Brandon Stewart have both run the ball effectively this season. Expect them to split carries against the Falcons. Both have averaged over four yards per carry and should get roughly 30 carries between them. They will be a good challenge for Air Force's young linebackers.

When Air Force has the ball

Air Force's offense has been a disappointment to say the least. While Air Force's defense has been creating opportunities, the offense has been squandering them. When Air Force scored on a trick play late in the second quarter against TCU, it was the Falcons' first offensive touchdown in two weeks. Sophomore QB Tim Jefferson was held out of the match-up against TCU due to a nagging ankle injury. Jefferson, last season's Mountain West Freshman of the Year, has struggled leading the offense this season. He has averaged only 3.1 yards per carry and has turned the ball over in several crucial situations. Fellow sophomore Connor Dietz started at QB for the Falcons against TCU and used his feet to convert some big third downs. He has an aggressive running style, and his averaged 6.5 yards per carry in considerable action this season. Though the TCU game was ultimately a loss for the Falcons, it was a confidence builder for the offense as they gained 229 yards on the ground against the conference's top defense. The Falcon offense should have increased success against the conference's 7th ranked Wyoming defense. The Falcon ground game will be the best rushing attack the Cowboys have faced this year, as their toughest opponent to date, Texas, struggles rushing the football. Gabe Knapton is Wyoming's leading tackler from his linebacker spot. He will need to have a great day to disrupt the Falcons' spread option. Also, Wyoming's pass defense ranks 115th in the FBS. Air Force doesn't throw the ball much, but expect them to throw more to take advantage of a poor secondary.

Prediction: The Falcons will move the football, but can they convert in the red zone? Air Force has only scored touchdowns on 11 of 25 trips in the red zone this season. They need to get more creative inside the twenty and consistently come away with seven instead of three. The Falcons should win this game, as the offense gels under Dietz. Falcons win 24-10.


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