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Preview, How to Watch: Air Force hopes to stay hot against unbeaten Wyoming

The Blue Out just might make the difference for the Falcons as the Cowboys come to town.

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force and Wyoming have a long history when it comes to football. Their streak of 40 consecutive years of clashes was snapped last year due to the pandemic, and there’s never been a better time to start a new one.

The Falcons have a narrow edge in the all-time series, leading 29-26-3. That record gets a little better when you narrow it down to Falcon Stadium, where Air Force holds a 17-12-1 edge. However, that doesn’t matter too much right now — all that matters is what these two teams have done lately.

On paper, this figures to be a pretty good conference matchup. Air Force is 4-1 with a 1-1 conference record while the Wyoming Cowboys are 4-0 and have yet to open conference play. A win for either squad puts them just one victory away from a potential bowl berth, but a glance at the schedules suggests that the Falcons have the more impressive resume thus far.

Air Force has wins over Lafayette, Navy, FAU, and New Mexico under its belt. Those teams aren’t world-beaters, but the Falcons have thumped them by 20 points or more. The team’s lone loss came to Utah State, though Air Force had no trouble rumbling to 45 points. After all, this is a Falcons group that leads the nations in rushing (367.4 yards per game) and is second in time of possession (37:31).

Over on the Wyoming side, they’ve defeated Montana State of the FCS by just three points. The Cowboys outlasted NIU to the tune of 50-43, thumped a weak Ball State squad 45-12, and barely squeaked past UConn 24-22. You can’t overlook the Ball State win, but the two-point gap over UConn is the closest the 0-6 Huskies have been to a win all season.

Now, let’s get to how these two teams stack up.

Air Force offense vs Wyoming defense

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

We all know how Air Force plans to approach this game. There’s no reason to stray from what is working, and the Falcons are leading the entire nation in rushing. Even though the Cowboys have been limiting foes to 148 yards per-game on the ground, there’s no reason to expect Air Force to change things up.

Wyoming has also allowed an average of 23.3 points per game to opponents — a full touchdown over what Air Force’s defense has accomplished. We can sit here and say that Brad Roberts is in line for another huge day after last week, but he may not be. This is a Falcons group that’s not afraid to roll with the hot hand, so we could see quarterback Haaziq Daniels, fullback Emmanuel Michel, or receiver Micah Davis get the lion’s share.

If Air Force turns to the passing attack, it’s a good bet that Davis will see the most targets. He and tight end Kyle Patterson currently lead the team with 188 and 81 yards through the air, respectively.

Should Haaziq Daniels try to test the Cowboys with his arm, he will have to do so carefully. The Wyoming defense has six interceptions already this year, led by a pair from Chad Muma.

Instead, Air Force will likely become very familiar with the tackling trio of CJ Coldon, Easton Gibbs, and Esaias Gandy, which I have been assured are not the names of literal cowboys. All three defenders have more than 20 tackles to their names, with a further five players in double digits.

Air Force defense vs Wyoming offense

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Chambers will lead the Cowboys at quarterback on Saturday, just as he’s done all season long. Chambers has had plenty of success, tossing for 750 total yards and 5 touchdowns. However, he’s completing just 58.2% of his passes with 3 interceptions, which could leave some room for a Corvan Taylor pick.

The real key to Wyoming’s attack is running back Xazavian Valladay. He leads the Cowboys with 471 yards of total offense — 340 rushing and 131 receiving. Valladay has four touchdowns to go along with his heap of yardage, and he’s the only Cowboy averaging more than 100 yards per game. Titus Swen (just another incredible name) is Valladay’s primary backup, though he’s much more of a threat on the ground with only 16 yards to his name through the air.

Both Vince Sanford and Demonte Meeks will have plenty of opportunities to add to their season totals of 25 and 20 tackles on Saturday. This is a Wyoming team that seems to prefer to run, with 172 rushes compared to 98 passes on the year. If someone outside of Corvan Taylor records an interception, it could mean good things for the future of this Falcons secondary.

How to Watch

  • When: Saturday, Oct. 9 — 7:00 p.m. EST
  • Where: Falcon Stadium — Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Watch: Rich Waltz, Aaron Taylor, and Amanda Guerra will have the call for CBS Sports Network.
  • Spread: Most books have Air Force favored by about 6 points, with the over-under set at 46.5.