Here we are, another Air Force football season is drawing to a close — well, the regular season, anyway.
This Falcons team has shown impressive resolve all year long, battling to an 8-3 record heading into the final week. It may not be quite finished, either, as there’s still the potential for a berth in the Mountain West championship game ahead of bowl season.
All Air Force can do in order to punch its ticket is defeat UNLV, which doesn’t look too daunting on paper. If Utah State and Boise State each win their games, the Falcons take the tiebreaker, which you can read more about right here. It’s not exactly clean-cut, but Air Force has the best shot at a trip to San Diego State (or possibly host Fresno State) for the crown.
UNLV hasn’t had a stellar season by any measure, limping to a 2-9 record. That said, the Rebels can still play spoiler in the right conditions. The good news is that Air Force holds an impressive 8-2 record against UNLV at home with wins in the last two meetings between the squads. History probably won’t matter too much, so let’s check out the details.
Air Force offense vs UNLV defense
How about that DeAndre Hughes, man? After an explosive performance last week, it’s tough to tell where Air Force will turn on offense against UNLV. However, it feels like an opportunity for quite a few players to pad their regular season stats. The one-two punch of Hughes and fullback Brad Roberts should open things up through the air for Haaziq Daniels if need be.
After all, this is a UNLV defense that’s allowing over 400 yards per game — almost evenly between the ground and air. The Rebels are also allowing 31.5 points per game, a number that the Falcons haven’t had much trouble reaching in their wins. Brad Roberts is nearing 1,200 yards for the season, and he’s already set the school record for single-season fullback yardage.
Hughes’ massive game launched him into third place on the team, only behind Roberts and Daniels, though he still has a way to go before catching either player. Brandon Lewis figures to play a key role in receiving, as he already leads the team with twice as many catches as Dane Kinamon.
The defensive names to know for the Rebels are Jacoby Windmon, with 102 tackles and 11 tackles for loss, and Austin Ajiake, with 74 stops of his own.
Air Force defense vs UNLV offense
The Rebel offense falls onto the shoulders of quarterback Cameron Friel, though not with great success. He has 1,608 yards, though he’s thrown 11 interceptions compared to just six touchdowns. Friel’s 62.4 completion percentage is respectable, and he will look to find Steve Jenkins as much as possible.
Jenkins has nearly 700 yards on 44 catches, with four touchdowns to his name. He will be spelled by running back Charles Williams, with 939 yards on nearly 200 attempts. Williams is key to the Rebels’ scoring plans, with a dozen scores on the season.
As always, the Falcons will rely on a rotating cast to lock things down. Tre Bugg has forced his way to the top of the stat sheet, with 51 total tackles, a forced fumble, and a pair of picks on the year. He also has 10 pass breakups, which will be a key factor in limiting the Rebels through the air.
Anything Bugg misses will be cleaned up by safety Corvan Taylor, who has 51 tackles of his own. Taylor may not have as many pass breakups, but he’s commanded the interception count with three.
How to Watch
- When: Friday, Nov. 26 — 3:30 p.m. EST
- Where: Falcon Stadium — Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Watch: John Sadak and Randy Cross will have the call for CBS Sports Network.
- Spread: Most books have Nevada favored by about 18 points, with the over-under set at 49.5.