Air Force Falcons (7-3 SU, 7-3 ATS) vs. Boise State Broncos (7-3 SU, 5- ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Friday, November 20, 2015 at 9:30PM EST
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: AFA +12.5/BSU -12.5
Over/Under Total: 56.5
In Friday MWC action, the Air Force Falcons come to Albertsons Stadium to face the Boise State Broncos in a battle of 7-3 teams. Air Force won on Saturday, beating a good team in Utah State, 35-28. With the win, the Falcons moved their conference mark to 5-1. Boise State fell on their faces Saturday, losing to New Mexico at home as 31-point favorites, 31-24. Boise State now needs to win this game to win the division.
As always, Air Force relies on a massive ground attack, which ranks second in all of college football. Quarterback Karson Roberts has only 4 passing touchdowns and has run in 8 more. Strangely against Utah State, they aired it out more, with Roberts putting up 271 yards, with Jalen Robinette going for 210 yards receiving. Whether thats a part of their game we can anticipate more of remains to be seen, but the run-game is big with this offense. Five different rushers have at least 300 yards on the ground, with that group combining for 28 rushing touchdowns. Jacobi Owens leads the team in rushing, but a lot of different players chip in with production. On Saturday, Owens ran for a pair of touchdowns, with Roberts chiming in with another. This offense averages a respectable 34 points per game. They carry some momentum into this game by beating a Utah State team that beat this Boise team, 52-26, earlier this season.
Air Forces defense is ranked 24th against the pass and 18th against the run, as they allow an average of 20 points per game. They have some pretty good balance as a defense. At times this season, they have been a bit porous, but this is a serviceable unit for the most part. They have been adept at rushing the passer and coming up with the occasional big clutch play that can make a big difference in close games.
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Air Force is in the midst of a pretty successful season and it hasnt come with much fanfare. Theyve been under-the-radar for the most part and for those paying attention, they know this is a pretty good team, especially in the context of the Mountain West Conference. Two of the three losses they suffered were earlier in the season, with road losses to Michigan State and Navy. They lost to Colorado State on the road, as well. And thats the thing with Air Force, who has won 12 straight games at home. Can they take their act on the road this week and notch the elusive big win away from home?
This game looked to set up well for Boise State, until the shocking loss to New Mexico. To put the enormity of it into perspective, it just might be the biggest win New Mexico ever had. And when a 31-point favorite loses by a touchdown, its newsworthy. In retrospect, New Mexico, 4-2 in conference play, shouldnt have been that much of an underdog, but it suggests something ominous for a Broncos team that was cruising along with 6 wins in 7 games. Already this season, weve had to do several different appraisals of a Boise State team that is hard to get a read on.
The hard part to believe about the game on Saturday is the Boise State offense was in high gear, yet could only manage 24 points. Boise quarterback Brett Rypien had 503 yards passing, completing 20 passes to Thomas Sperbeck, who had 281 yards receiving. Running back Jeremy McNichols was productive with 128 yards and a touchdown run. But 4 turnovers, including 3 Rypien picks, stunted their actual point-scoring and they never had the lead in a game where they put up 638 yards of total offense.
It was also surprising to see the Boise State D give up some huge chunks of yardage against the run. Prior to the game, that was considered the strong suit of the Broncos defense, with them ranked 4th in the nation against the run. They had the 11th-ranked defense in the country and it didnt really look like it on Saturday. Against BYU and Utah State, they had given up a lot of points, but in doing so against New Mexico; it throws a different light on a defense we may have overrated a bit. Even when they managed to climb back into the game late, two New Mexico touchdowns in the span of less than 2 minutes in the 4th quarter killed the comeback. This unit has some atoning to do this weekend and will have their hands full. If they thought the New Mexico offense was tough, they might really labor with the Falcons.
We should perhaps slow down in condemning Boise State on the basis of one really bad game. Its been a difficult season for Boise and maybe an overall letdown in the minds of many people. But they are a victim of their own success in that regard and are still a top conference team with a good chance to take the division. Granted, they look a bit ragged in losing two of their last 4 to conference opponents, while beating WMC doormats like UNLV and Wyoming. If beating top-shelf Mountain West teams has become problematic for Boise, they could have their hands full this week against an underrated Air Force bunch.
New Mexico should have success moving the ball on the ground, especially if Boise doesnt fix whatever ailed them last week. But look for the Boise air attack to yield some good results against an Air Force defense that can be exploited in that area, with McNichols chiming in on the ground. Its a copout in a way to say Boise has more balance on offense, with Air Force so heavy in the run approach. But it might resonate in this game. Even if it does, I see Air Force hanging in there gamely and keeping this one respectable.
Scotts Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Air Force Falcons plus 12.5 points.
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