It’s a bittersweet time of year. Air Force is winding down its regular season, but bowl season is right around the corner. The Falcons have already secured eligibility, so now every win inches them towards a better berth.
Now, Air Force must find its way past Nevada to improve to 8-3. The two squads hold identical records, both in the conference and overall. They even share a common loss to San Diego State, but how much can we learn from that?
Interestingly enough, the away team has won both of the last two meetings — with Air Force winning in Reno in 2017 followed by a Nevada win in Colorado Springs the following year.
The Wolf Pack fell to the Aztecs just last week, so they will be looking for a bounceback opportunity. The Falcons, on the other hand, returned to the win column with a comfortable victory over Colorado State. Let’s dig into the teams on both sides of the ball and see how this one might play out.
Air Force offense vs Nevada defense
It’s no secret what the Falcons want to do on Saturday. After all, Air Force still boasts the top rushing attack in the land, and Brad Roberts looked more like himself this week. He saw more than 30 chances at the ball and turned them into 151 yards and a pair of scores. Roberts also finally eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
That said, Haaziq Daniels showed what he can do with his arm, slinging a pair of touchdown passes against the Rams — a career high. He connected on a 92-yard score, the longest in team history, which means that Daniels holds both of the longest Air Force scoring plays of all time.
His favorite target by far has been senior Brandon Lewis. Lewis was on the receiving end of the 92-yard bomb, which brought him to 424 yards on the season. Dane Kinamon and David Cormier aren’t too close on his tails, with 101 and 89 yards, respectively.
It feels pretty safe to expect the Falcons to rely on the ground game on Friday, given that the Wolf Pack is allowing nearly 400 combined yards per game. While most of that has come through the air, Nevada is allowing more than twice as many rushing yards as it earns.
Linebacker Daiyan Henley figures to be a key contributor, with 82 tackles to his name so far. He has three tackles for loss, and fellow linebacker Lawson Hill has a stout 68 stops of his own. Hill has a pick, too, suggesting he can play a role no matter the scheme.
Air Force defense vs Nevada offense
Nevada’s offense is a pass-first attack if the Falcons have ever seen one. The Wolf Pack is averaging just 64 yards rushing per game, but 373 through the air. It mainly funnels through the arm of quarterback Carson Strong, who has 323 completions on the year for 3,547 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Strong’s primary target is receiver Romeo Doubs, who has turned 64 catches into 853 yards and 7 scores on the year. Leading the charge on the ground is Toa Taua with 558 yards and four touchdowns.
Given the pass-happy offense that the Wolf Pack runs, it’s safe to expect a big day for the secondary. Tre Bugg III and Trey Taylor will both have to repeat their performances from last week, with Taylor notching eight tackles and his first interception. Bugg boasts 47 stops, 9 pass breakups, and a pair of picks on the year.
How to Watch
- When: Friday, Nov. 19 — 9:00 p.m. EST
- Where: Mackay Stadium — Reno, Nevada
- Watch: Alex Faust and Petros Papadakis will have the call for FS1.
- Spread: Most books have Nevada favored by about 1.5 points, with the over-under set at 52.5.