Air Force Falcons (9-3 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date/Time: Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
TV: ESPN 2
By Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: AFA +7/SDSU -7
Over/Under Total: 51
Saturday features the Mountain West Conference Championship Game, with the Air Force Falcons coming into Qualcomm Stadium to face the San Diego Aztecs. The Aztecs benefit from this game being at home, but will be facing a tough challenge in the Falcons. Air Force didnt end the regular season on the highest of notes, falling to New Mexico as double-digit favorites on Saturday. The loss ended a 5-game win streak for Air Force, but they still won their division and can now win the conference. To do so, theyll need to unseat a red-hot San Diego State team. The Aztecs beat Nevada, 31-14, on Saturday to notch their 8th straight victory. They have entered this part of the season with a ton of momentum.
It was easy to relegate San Diego State to the scrapheap after the way they started the season, losing 3 straight after an easy week one win over an FCS opponent to start the season at 1-3. Losing to Penn State and Cal wasnt so disturbing perhaps, but losing at home to South Alabama was a troubling development. They have since won every single game and have not lost against the spread, making bettors happy. But after the start to the season, not a lot of people were betting the Aztecs. They really turned things around this season in a dramatic way. There have been other teams who have reversed momentum this season, but the Aztecs are really cruising along now.
To put into perspective how good the Aztecs have been in recent weeksall their wins in this 8-game stretch have been by at least two touchdowns. They got through a tough conference schedule without so much as the slightest trouble. No team has scored over 20 points on SDSU since September. Theyve been really goodboth home and away and not many teams got through their last 8 games with such ease.
QB Maxwell Smith efficiently runs the Aztecs offense. His stats wont blow anyone away, but hes a capable field general who runs a smooth offense. With two interceptions thrown on the season, hes shown himself to be a capable steward of this group. Their main contributor is dynamic running back Donnel Pumphrey, who has 18 touchdowns with over 1400 yards on the ground. And their second option isnt so shabby either, with Chase Price at near 900 yards on the ground. At root, San Diego State relies on a heavy-duty running game and a stout defense. And when they get cooking on that slow Qualcomm track, other teams get ground down to a nub.
The Aztecs defense is a stout and punishing group. Teams are usually heavily-depreciated come the fourth quarter. San Diego State has the 6th-ranked defense in the entire country and theyve shown themselves to be the class of the conference by a considerable margin. They can disrupt the opposing passing game with a big rush. And theyve gotten 20 interceptions this year and 31 turnovers overall. This defense usually makes a big contribution to the Aztecs wins this season.
But lets not allow the adulation for the Aztecs not take away from the menace of their opponent. Air Force is a heck of a team. One immediate knock on them would be that they seem at least somewhat better at home, where theyve won 12 straight, as opposed to on the road. In addition, theyre not exactly roaring with momentum into this game, having been exploited in some ways last week in a loss to New Mexico.
As always seems to be the case, the Falcons are the opposite of what their name suggests, with a run-heavy approach. They really didnt get much of anything going in the way of an aerial attack this season until late, when quarterback Karson Roberts starting hitting receivers with more regularity, namely big-time WR Jalen Robinette, who can really be a difference-maker. But in essence, this is a run-heavy offense, Roberts himself adds a lot of production with his legs, but this is an ensemble approach, with 7 different guys having at least 300 rushing yards, while half-a-dozen players have at least 4 rushing TDs. San Diego States D will have their work cut out, especially with things opening up lately with the passing-game.
The Air Force defense has been a major team asset in 2015. They are ranked in the top 20 in terms of total yardage allowed. And their pass-rush is above question, with 36 sacks ranking among the best ten teams in the country. That made it all the more puzzling when New Mexico put up almost 400 yards on the ground against this defense on Saturday. Anything similar to that performance on Saturday will make this an easy one for the Aztecs.
Even locally, the Aztecs have slid under the radar for the most part. There isnt anything that compelling about a run-heavy/good defense team in the minds of some folks. They have a tough one here against an Air Force team that has a lot on the line. But San Diego has a lot more momentum and has peaked at the right time. They are battle-tempered and galvanized by their dramatic turnaround this season. And while taking Air Forces last game to heart too much could be a mistake, they still dont seem to be at their best right now, which they would need to be to upset the Aztecs. Im taking the San Diego State Aztecs.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Diego State Aztecs minus 7 points.
Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 50% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500! (Example: Deposit $500 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.
Additional College Football Betting Previews