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Takeaways: Air Force knocks off Boise State to become bowl eligible

The Falcons rushed for over 300 yards to improve to 6-1, their best start since 2002.

NCAA Football: Air Force at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State pulled out all of the blue stops in hopes of getting past Air Force on Saturday night. Sure, the “Smurf Turf” is always there, but this year the Broncos donned blue from head to toe for their showdown with the Falcons.

It proved not to be enough. Air Force, decked out in its “Stormtrooper” triple white uniforms, built a slim first half lead and locked things down in the second half to improve to 6-1 on the year and secure bowl eligibility after a down season in 2020.

Boise State opened the scoring on Saturday, as quarterback Hank Bachmeier connected with Stefan Cobbs for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Air Force responded with a grueling, 14-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 4-yard Brad Roberts run.

Shortly into the second quarter, Haaziq Daniels put the Falcons ahead with a 25-yard touchdown run of his own. Now, it was the Broncos turn to answer, and answer they did thanks to an 11-yard Andrew Van Buren run to even things at 14.

Unfortunately for Boise State, that was as close as they would come to putting Air Force away. Brad Robers punched in another 1-yard score to head into halftime up 21-14.

The defenses took center stage for the third quarter, as both teams traded empty possessions for the full 15 minutes. Matthew Dapore finally gave Air Force a 10-point lead with just under three minutes to play, but the game was far from over.

Boise State answered with their own field goal with just 49-seconds left on the clock and then the Broncos lined up for one last onside kick attempt. They recovered the attempt at the Air Force 49-yard line with 40 seconds left to play and appeared ready to seize the momentum right at the end. At least, until Tre Bugg III stepped in. Bugg picked off Hank Bachmeier’s pass to put the Broncos on ice and elevate Air Force to 6-1 for the first time since 2002.


National recognition

NCAA Football: Air Force at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force isn’t ranked yet, but the Falcons took a major step on Saturday with their 24-17 win over the Broncos. They picked up 19 votes in the AP poll, which puts them at number 30 right behind the likes of BYU and Arkansas. The Falcons have another opportunity to make up some ground next weekend as number 22 San Diego State comes to town in what is easily the toughest remaining test.

Rushing machine

NCAA Football: Air Force at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another dominant performance from Brad Roberts. He added another 28 rushing attempts to bring his total up to 178 for the year and picked up 138 yards to reach 818 yards, a career high. Roberts is also up to 8 rushing scores on the season and trails only Haaziq Daniels in scoring.

While the Falcons will always continue to spread the ball in their triple option system, Roberts has become a clear focal point. On a day where Haaziq Daniels only completed one pass for 59 yards, Brad Roberts continued to churn yards and keep the Falcons just ahead of their foe.

Defense wins championships

NCAA Football: Air Force at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force has had no trouble putting up points through the first half of the season, but it’s the defense that has shown the most growth throughout the year. Tre Bugg III picked off his first pass of the year to seal the game, and Alec Mock launched himself to the top of the team tacke sheet with 27 stops. Bo Richter also recovered a fumble as the Falcons won the turnover battle 2-1 on Saturday.

The defensive unit shut the Broncos down in the second half, allowing just three points to Bachmeier’s crew. They kept Boise State limited to just 78 rushing yards on the evening, too.

Up next

We’ve already mentioned once or twice that the Falcons have a tough test next week. No. 22 San Diego State is coming to town with its perfect 6-0 record on the line. The game kicks off on Saturday, October 23 at 7 p.m. ET, and Air Force is an early 4-point favorite.