This is a huge game for the Wyoming Cowboys as they look to establish themselves as the number three team in the Mountain West. Wyoming took down San Diego State on the road two weeks ago and now need to do the same against Air Force. While the Falcons have won five straight in the series, these are always very close games. The last time the Cowboys visited the Springs they lost 10-0. This Air Force team is not nearly as strong as the Pokes have faced in recent history.
Air Force still gains a ton of rushing yards with their triple option attack and Wyoming allows plenty of rushing yards. The biggest difference is the Falcon defense that is giving up 29.3 points per game which is nearly 8 points then their 2010 average. While Wyoming's offense is greatly improved this year there are now a couple question marks for the Pokes. Ghaali Muhammad is lost for the season and that will certainly hurt the run game. Can Alvester Alexander step up to a bigger role now? Can the Pokes find lightning in a bottle after burning the redshirt of Kody Sutton? Wyoming will need to establish the running game and eat up the clock to help give their defense some rest.
Coach Christensen says that Brett Smith is healthy and ready to go this week after being knocked out against TCU. His leadership on the field is vital to the Pokes putting up some points on the board. If Smith is his usual self then Wyoming has a great shot at knocking off Air Force and moving even closer to bowl eligibility. Both of these teams need seven wins to go bowling since they played two FCS schools.
1. This Air Force team doesn't look nearly as strong as they did last year. What do you believe is the reason for that? Injuries? Graduation?
I would chalk this season up to a combination of the two. The defensive line was decimated by injuries early in the year and teams have shown that the front seven is vulnerable against the run. The line is coming back together though, with the return of Zach Payneand Ryan Gardner in the past few weeks. The graduation of Reggie Rembert has clearly shown that there are holes in the secondary. Opponents have been attacking Chris Martin and Josh Hall knowing that Anthony Wright, Jr is the better of the DBs on the opposite side. But ultimately it has come down to turnovers with this team. They are not producing them on defense (the Army game excluded) and they are not protecting the ball like they have in the past.
2. This will be 50th meeting between Wyoming and Air Force yet Troy Calhoun doesn't consider Wyoming a rival. Is there anything special between these two teams or is just another game?
3. Air Force is considering moving their football team to the Big East and other sports to a smaller conference. They also may stay in the Mountain as a full member or football only member. Which option do you prefer for the Academy and why?
I would prefer to see Air Force remain a full member of the Mountain West, but the leadership at the Academy has many things to take into consideration as far as it's conference affiliation is concerned. Football is a marketing tool to recruit for the Air Force as a whole, not just to attrach cadets. With potential budget cuts in the near future across the Department of Defense, the Air Force athletic department has to look at ways to fund the athletic programs outside of the little government funding they receive. But, this isn't to say that if there is greater money to be made in the Big East that the Academy will automatically leave the Mountain West. It seems as though the leadership is also taking into consideration its geographic location and its 30 year partnership within the WAC turned MWC. There has also been a backlash by the fan base for interest in joining the Big East. There are some season ticket holders who have told me that they would cancel their tickets if Air Force left for the Big East. Outside of games against Army or Navy, Colorado State or Wyoming, and parents weekend every year, Air Force hasn't been able to fill Falcon Stadium. I would imagine it will be even more difficult to sell Big East matchups, and potentially lose CSU or Wyoming every year. I would not be surprised to see Air Force leave the MW, but I don't want them to. I have always enjoyed going to road games in Laramie and Ft. Collins, but continuing those series may not be possible if they do leave. As for Air Force's other sports, they are struggling in the MW and moving them to another conference may be inevitable, but doing that sends the wrong message to the cadets that the Academy is trying to build into leaders.
4. Are you concerned by any part of the Wyoming offense or defense? What will give Air Force the most problems?
5. Complete this sentence. "Wyoming will beat Air Force if ____________________"
6. Predict the score!!!
I hate the line on this game. These two have had close matchups no matter how good or bad the teams are playing. Wyoming is playing better this season, and Air Force is playing slightly below expectations. I look for Air Force to take advantage of Wyoming's weakness against the run and exploit it. Smith will be successful against the Air Force secondary, but Wyoming will lose the time of possession battle. I don't like picking final scores but I will say Air Force wins another close one 35-27.