A game that could've given the MWC a great deal of national exposure as a battle of two ranked teams lost some of it's luster last weekend when Air Force lost at San Diego State. Although the Falcons couldn't take care of business against the Aztecs a Horned Frog win could still carry some weight with the pollsters as Air Force only lost by 3 points to the #1 Oklahoma Sooners in Norman. A convincing win (read: covering the spread of 18.5) could give the Frogs some ammo in the argument that they belong in the national championship conversation. The Falcons have never won in Amon G. Carter Stadium (0-4) and the sold-out crowd under the lights should be a great deal rowdier than the 33,000 that witnessed the team's 2008 meeting (44-10 TCU).
Both teams come in at less than full strength with injuries beginning to rear their ugly head on each squad. Most notable being the season ending injury to powerful Air Force fullback Jared Tew. Tew was a force to be reckoned with in the inside running game which gave Air Force a "triple option" in the truest sense. The loss of Tew means that if Nathan Walker doesn't step up in his stead the AFA running attack will be at a major disadvantage as TCU won't have to respect the inside running threat.
TCU on the other hand is reeling on the offensive line with the loss of guard Kyle Dooley. Normally this loss wouldn't have much of an impact because the Frogs rotate multiple offensive lineman but unfortunately Dooley's backup, Blaize Foltz, was lost just days before to a season ending injury that occurred in practice. Spencer Thompson stepped in admirably against BYU and will be counted on to keep the Frog rushing attack going strong against a speedy Falcon defense.
The matchup of the AFA offense and the TCU defense is a bit of a "unstoppable force vs. immovable object" argument. Air Force boasts the nations #1 rushing offense (347 yards per game) while TCU is 9th in rushing defense (90 yards per game) and 2nd overall (218 yards per game). TCU's defensive tackles should be able to shut down the threat of the inside run game against AFA's undersized o-line and the ferocious TCU safeties should be able to hold their own on the edge. The x-factor comes in the form of Tim Jefferson's arm (838 passing yards) because he gives them a dimension they have lacked in the past and if the TCU back 7 gets overzealous in supporting the run he could turn that into an easy 6.
I know I begin to sound like a broken record but on offense the Frogs need to RUN THE BALL early and often. If TCU tries to get to cute the Air Force secondary is more than capable of being Andy Dalton's worst night mare. TCU should be able to exploit the fact that they are simply more physically dominating up front and control the ball on the ground with Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker, and Waymon James. Once they are rolling then Andy can start to "make it rain."
Prediction: TCU 31 AFA 17