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Air Force football: Bye week thoughts — the MWC, Army and a burger recipe

Even without football this weekend, there is plenty for Air Force fans to keep an eye on across the slate of games

Air Force v Army Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

One of my criticism’s of Air Force’s scheduling is that I don’t like having a bye week after our first game against what has historically been FCS opponents. Proponents would argue that it’s good because it gives the Falcons extra time to prepare for week three, which is usually an out of conference game against a power 5 team or at least a decent group of 5 opponent that Air Force rarely, if ever, meets. Personally, I just feel teased. The first game feels like an appetizer and I’m ready to get the season rolling, but in stereotypical Air Force fashion, we have to hurry up and wait.

I have personally covered every aspect of Air Force football leading up to this season through other articles as well as on the podcast and I will provide a proper Colorado preview next week after we get a chance to see the Buffs play Nebraska, but there is still plenty to do as an Air Force fan when it comes to watching football in preparation for the rest of the Falcons’ schedule.

Colorado vs. Nebraska

Colorado opened its season against Air Force conference foe Colorado State last week at the Broncos’ stadium in Denver. The Buffs’ senior quarterback Steven Montez looked as good as he was projected to be, completing 13 of his 20 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. One player that came as a bit of a surprise for Colorado was sophomore Alex Fontenot, who rushed for 125 yards and three touchdowns. The good news is that Air Force has what appears to be a much stronger defense than Mike Bobo’s Rams and Nebraska should give the team a solid workout before Air Force heads up to Boulder. Keep an eye out for Colorado’s pass rush to see what Donald Hammond III will be dealing with after his arm went totally untested against Colgate.

Boise State vs. Marshall

The Broncos are Air Force’s third opponent of the season on week four and if you were nervous before their opening game against Florida State, their underdog win didn’t do anything to alleviate concern. As an Air Force fan, this game will put the Boise team into perspective because their game is on Friday night on the blue turf, which is precisely the time and venue for when the Falcons come to town on September 20th. I believed that Boise State’s offense had a fair chance at a down year with Brett Rypien’s graduation, but they have found a scary good passing replacement in true freshman Hank Backmeier, who completed 30 of 51 passes for 407 yards and a touchdown, albeit with an interception. Their win over the Seminoles was a team effort, so seeing that kind of meshing so early in the season means that Air Force has a tough task in their next two games.

Fresno State vs. Minnesota

Fresno State was the talk of the Mountain West over the pre-season, picked to win the West Division of the conference. They played a slightly down USC (at least in comparison to their usual team) in week one and lost 31-23. By no means is that an indication of things to come for Fresno State, but on a week zero/one where four Mountain West teams took down power 5 opponents, they are currently not the most interesting talking point in the conference. This week, Fresno State has another shot at a small power 5 upset as three point dogs to the Gophers. Air Force has some time before they take on Fresno State, but as a diehard fan, this game will be a delightful 10:30 PM Eastern nightcap to the day’s games.

Army vs. Michigan

It is poetic that both Air Force and Navy have bye weeks when Army will play the biggest game in years. Why is it so big? Well, Army’s critics have pointed to weak scheduling as a majorly detracting factor in their dominant success over the last three years. Army and their fans have been dying to make a case that they deserve a top 25 ranking and a berth into a new year’s six bowl game. Well now they have their opportunity to silence the critics and stun number 7 Michigan at the Big House. Even for Air Force and Navy, an Army win would be awesome because it sets the stage for both teams to potentially take down a team that would certainly earn a top 25 ranking.

With a great football schedule for Air Force fans to watch this weekend, the bye week shouldn’t hurt too much. It will even give you a chance to prepare to watch Air Force take on CU. A great way to prepare would be to practice making some buffalo smash burgers. Here’s my recipe for you to try. It’s best served at your watch party next week, but I would recommend turning the game on after Ralphie makes her (Yes, her. The Ralphie mascot is always a female bison) run around the stadium.

Buffalo Smash Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 pound 85% lean ground bison
  • 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic power
  • 4 oz pickled sweet cherry peppers
  • smoked gruyere cheese
  • fresh arugula
  • 2 rolls of your choice

White Truffle Aoli

  • -2 egg yolks
  • -1/4 cup olive oil
  • -1/2 cup canola oil
  • -1/4 cup white truffle oil
  • -1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • -2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • -1 tsp dijon mustard
  • -Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Form the bison meat into two-8 oz balls and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Mince the cherry peppers or place in a food processor to make a pepper relish.
  • Slice the gruyere cheese into burger sized pieces. Any smoky cheese that melts well will work in replacement of gruyere, including fontina, cheddar, and gouda.
  • When the skillet comes up to temperature, add the butter and quickly place the balls of ground bison into the pan seasoning side down. Place a piece of wax paper or parchment paper over top and smash down to a 1/4-1/2 inch thick patty using the bottom of a bowl or small plate. Season the top with another generous pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic pepper. Allow to cook for approximately 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes. After that time, top the burgers with your cheese and cover the skillet to cook for another 2-3 minutes. While the burgers cook, dress your arugula with the white truffle aoli and set aside.
  • Remove the burgers from heat. Slice the buns and coat each side with a thin layer of aoli and put the burgers on each bottom bun. Top with the dressed arugula and pepper relish. Top with the other bun and enjoy.

Aoli Directions

  • Mix your three oils together into a measuring cup with a spout.
  • Separate the eggs and using only the yolks, whisk until uniform in a small bowl.
  • Either using and immersion blender or while whisking, stream in the oil a drop at a time. It may help to have another person whisk while streaming in the oil, you are making an emulsion, so this step is critical to bringing the aoli together. After a few minutes if hand whisking, or after about a minute with an immersion blender, it will begin to thicken and you can add the rest of the oil more quickly. Mix the other ingredients and adjust to taste.
  • Note: You can adjust the the oils and ingredients for flavor, but the ratio of egg yolk to oil affects the consistency of the aoli.