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Air Force season preview: Could the Falcons make the playoff?

The easiest way to go undefeated is to play a short season, right?

NCAA Football: Cheez-It Bowl-Air Force vs Washington State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Out of the Service Academies, the coronavirus pandemic has arguably hit the Air Force Falcons hardest of all for the upcoming season thanks to the Mountain West choosing to postpone all fall sports. It’s made life difficult for the Falcons as they don’t have the same flexibility to schedule opponents as Army — an independent.

As it stands, Air Force has just two games on its schedule, Army and Navy. Additionally, Troy Calhoun has not blessed us with a depth chart to analyze yet, so let’s cross our fingers and imagine the easiest route to the playoff.

The team

Air Force’s lack of a full season means that the Falcons haven’t really bothered to put out a depth chart. Honestly, we may not hear a peep out of Colorado until the Navy match-up draws near, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely in the dark.

Offensively, the Falcons should return a number of key contributors although a question mark hangs around the quarterback position. Last we heard Donald Hammond III was not a cadet in good standing and faced the potential of a missed season. Ben Waters and Geraud Sanders are gone, though a number of receivers are waiting in the wings. Kadin Remsberg is back and ready for more action following a 1,050-yard season, and he’ll be spelled by Timothy Jackson who had a few 100-yard games of his own.

Three-year starters Nolan Laufenberg and Parker Ferguson are back on the offensive line as well, where they should be joined by other seniors. The O-Line should be able to pave the way for loads of rushing yards again. Laufenberg was named to the AP’s Preseason All-America team and is seen as a legit NFL prospect.

On defense, the Falcons were hit a bit harder. Big Mo Fifita is gone to graduation, but Jordan Jackson and Christopher Herrera return on the line. Inside linebacker ought to be a position of strength too as leading tackler Demonte Meeks is back in the saddle but Tre Bugg is the only returning starter at cornerback, while Zane Lewis is onto bigger things in the pros.

The Games

vs. Navy

When: Oct. 3 @ TBA

How to watch: TBA

The facts: It’s impossible to forget how last year’s tilt ended — a three-yard run from Malcolm Perry with 23 seconds remaining dashed the hopes of Falcons’ fans everywhere. Navy is coming off of an incredible 11-2 season, and although Perry is gone the Mids return many key skill players. There’s a pair of distinct advantages that could turn this game in the Falcons’ favor — home field advantage and the abundance of bye weeks.

Navy has a relatively full slate of games between now and October 3, while the Falcons can stay rested and stay healthy as they perfect their strategies. Of course, Air Force won’t be quite as battle-tested as Navy when they do finally meet.

Prediction: I just hope the game happens, and Air Force wins.

at Army

When: Nov. 7 @ 1:30 p.m. EST

How to watch: CBS

The facts: While the Navy game ended in heartbreak, the 2019 match-up with Army ended with a defensive stand by the Falcons. Air Force held on to give Army its fifth loss in as many games as the Black Knights finished the season a very pedestrian 5-8. There’s no reason to think that the Falcons can’t do it again this year because there’s yet another slate of bye weeks between the Army and Navy match-ups.

Army comes into the game off of a bye week as well, which may even things out, but they’ll also have a better chance of stacking up a few injuries. The Black Knights aren’t playing world-beaters due to the cancellation of most out of conference games, but some competition is still an advantage.

Prediction: See also — prediction for Navy game.

Did someone say playoffs?

Well, it’s more of a dream, but the best way to make the playoffs is to go undefeated, right?

It’s much easier to go undefeated when you have just two games on the schedule and an abundance of bye weeks in between. Not to mention the fact that the committee likes teams who win trophies, and the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy means something special among all of the teams in the country.

Can the Air Force Falcons really make the playoff?

Probably not, but they could definitely pencil in an undefeated season and a chance to take home the C.I.C. trophy for the first time since 2016.

We’ll just have to wait and see how the next few months unfold.

Anyways: Go Air Force, beat everyone!