Things have gone pretty well for Air Force so far in this young college football season.
The Falcons are 2-0, they hold the early lead for the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy, and they kept Navy far away from the end-zone all day in Annapolis.
Now, a new test comes to town.
The Falcons are gearing up to take on their first unbeaten foe of the year, the Aggies of Utah State. Like Air Force, Utah State has had its chance to beat up on an FCS opponent — the Aggies smacked North Dakota this past weekend. However, the Aggies opened their year against Washington State of the Pac-12. They managed to edge out a win in Pullman, which can only boost their confidence.
While that may give Utah State fans reason for optimism as both teams open their Mountain West campaigns, history favors the Falcons. Air Force not only won in Logan last December by a score of 35-7, but they also knocked the Aggies around last time the teams squared off in Colorado Springs by a score of 31-7.
Alright, let’s see how the squads stack up this year.
Air Force offense vs. Utah State defense
We all know what to expect from Air Force heading into this one. Heck, Utah State knows what to expect. Haaziq Daniels will start at quarterback with a plethora of rushing options around him. The Falcons have already rumbled for 546 rushing yards this young season, good for an average of 273 per game.
Daniels is also just under 100 passing yards for the season with six completions on his 15 total attempts. While victory through the air is ironically not Air Force’s preference, receiver Micah Davis has tallied more than half of the total yards and receptions so far. He’s followed by tight end Kyle Patterson who has two catches of his own.
On the ground, the Falcons have called on a three-headed monster of sorts, with Daniels, Davis, and running back Brad Roberts claiming most of the yards so far. The three men also have all of Air Force’s touchdowns so far.
On the other hand, Utah State has held its opponents to an average of 107 rushing yards per game. They’re a bit more generous in the passing game, allowing nearly 300 yards, though the Aggies haven’t faced a team so committed to jamming the ball down their throats as Air Force so far this year.
Linebacker Justin Rice and safety Dominic Tatum lead the Aggies in total tackles through their first two games, and Rice will look to cause chaos early and often on Saturday.
Air Force defense vs. Utah State offense
The Falcons are running full steam on defense right now, allowing just 17 total points through two games. Even better, the majority of those points came from a Lafayette Leopards team in the very first game of the season. Navy has shown more than a little bit of offensive dysfunction to this point, but the Falcons capitalized everywhere they needed to.
In fact, Air Force ranks second in the nation in total defense, allowing just 177.5 yards per game — only half a yard behind national leaders, Georgia. They’re fifth in the nation for rush defense, allowing 39.5 yards per game, and the Falcons kept Navy to a measly 1.1 yards per rush.
Demonte Meeks and TD Blackmon lead the team in stops, with 13 each. They’ll look to assert themselves against an Aggie offense that averages 37 points per-game with solid yardage numbers to back it up. Logan Bonner is at the helm for Utah State, with more than 500 of the team’s 600 passing yards, and Calvin Tyler Jr. is guiding the run game to the tune of 156 yards through two games.
How to Watch
Kickoff: Saturday, September 18, 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: Falcon Stadium — Colorado Springs, Colorado
Watch: FS2 — Cory Provus is on play-by-play with Devin Gardner as the analyst.
Spread: Air Force is currently favored at -9 with the over/under set at 50.5 points.