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Preview, How to Watch: Air Force heads to Colorado State in search of a win

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Now out of C.I.C. contention, the Falcons are in need of a win down the road in Fort Collins.

NCAA Football: Air Force at Colorado State Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

The Air Force Falcons have been knocked down a few times now. They won’t finish the season with the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy once again, but all is not lost. Life is all about getting back up again, and the Falcons have an excellent opportunity against Colorado State this weekend.

Air Force hasn’t fallen to an opponent with a losing record yet this season, and Colorado State is sitting at just 3-6. Outside of the 7-point win over Boise State, the Falcons have won by an average of over 20 points when facing a lesser foe.

Both teams enter Saturdays’ contest in serious need of a bounce-back win. We all know how Air Force’s last two heartbreakers have gone — a pair of comeback attempts that have fallen just short. However, the Rams have dropped three in a row, including losses to Wyoming and Boise State.

Considering the common opponents, you would expect Air Force to run away with the matchup. Yet ESPN’s FPI gives the Falcons just a 50.9% chance to emerge victorious compared to the Rams’ 49.1% chance. We don’t need Scott Steiner to give us a math lesson to know these numbers seem off, so let’s get into the details.

Air Force offense vs Colorado State defense

NCAA Football: Air Force at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

We saw Air Force rely surprisingly heavily on the air attack last week, with Haaziq Daniels connecting on 13 of 22 passes for 226 yards — all career highs for the signal-caller. He has an impressive 788 yards on the year with 48.7% completions.

That said, I would expect the Falcons to turn back to familiar territory this week. Colorado State is allowing 189 passing yards per game compared to 139 rushing yards, suggesting that a balanced approach is best. A solid showing from fullback Brad Roberts would put him over 1,000 yards rushing on the season after putting down 68 yards against Army last week. Roberts needs just 87 yards — a mark he hit frequently leading up to the San Diego State game.

Haaziq Daniels still leads the team in rushing touchdowns with nine, and it seems reasonable to expect that trend to continue. If the Falcons turn to the passing game, Brandon Lewis has emerged as a top target with 13 catches for 332 yards. Micah Davis is right behind him with 10 catches for 221 yards.

Hoping to slow the Falcons down are DeQuan Jackson and Cam’Ron Carter for the Rams. Jackson boasts 75 stops with 7.5 tackles for loss, and Carter is right behind him with 74 stops and 6 sacks.

Air Force defense vs Colorado State offense

NCAA Football: Colorado State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado State doesn’t have a rushing threat with as many yards as Brad Roberts, though David Bailey is an effective rusher in his own right. He’s rumbled to 602 yards on the ground with half a dozen scores.

The Rams are just as dangerous through the air, with Trey McBride snatching 838 yards and a single touchdown. Overall, quarterback Todd Centeio has thrown 10 touchdowns and 2,093 total yards compared to just four interceptions.

As the numbers suggest, the Rams are a pass-first offense, putting up an average of 236 yards per game. The rushing attack can’t be discounted with 164 yards per game, so expect the entire Air Force defense to step up.

Vince Sanford still leads the team with 43 total tackles and a whopping 11 sacks. Milton Bugg III and Trey Taylor are right on his heels with 40 tackles apiece, though Bugg boasts a pick while Taylor has a single tackle for loss.

How to Watch

  • When: Saturday, Nov. 13 — 7:00 p.m. EST
  • Where: Canvas Stadium — Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Watch: Dave Ryan, Aaron Murray, and Justin Walters will have the call for CBS Sports.
  • Spread: Most books have Air Force favored by about 2.5 points, with the over-under set at 45.