Fresh off a win to keep their bowl hopes alive the UNLV Rebels (4-6, 2-4) will travel to Colorado Springs to take on the Air Force Falcons (6-4, 4-2). Air Force is coming off a good showing against Army in a 35-7 win. This will be the Rebels biggest challenge since it became a must win situation for a bowl game.
The Falcons have been clicking on offense the last few weeks putting up 69 points. This comes from Tim Jefferson getting healthy again and taking charge of the triple option offense. Air Force struck big in the air last week with 4 passes for 131 yards. If they can get the passing game going this team is very difficult to beat, especially at the Air Academy. As usual look for the Falcons to control the ball on offense and pick their spots to pick up yards in the air.
On defense the Falcons will look to their massive turnover margin of 18 this year. That is tops in the Mountain West by 14 turnovers and tied for first in the nation. Part of that comes from never throwing the ball so they only lose fumbles, but also from a quick defense that has picked off 11 passes.
The Rebels looked good last week against Colorado State, but who hasn't the last 7 weeks? They should get credit for their balanced game plan that kept the Rams off balance all game. They will need Omar Clayton to do the same thing this week if they have a chance. QB Mike Clausen will have to make the most of his chances when he is put in. The two quarterback attack can be successful if both quarterbacks find their rhythm and exploit the small Falcon defense.
On defense the Rebels have a good core of linebackers and that can help immensely in stopping the triple option. If those LB's stick to their assignments and use their athletic ability they could slow down the Falcon attack. The other big factor will not be getting burnt by the few Air Force passes. They will go to the air about 7-13 times and the Rebels can't let one turn into a 60 yard touchdown pass.
With the Rebels bowl season on the line I expect them to come out fired up and challenge a good Air Force team. However I don't see it being enough as Air Force is executing to well on offense right now.