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Air Force-Utah State Preview: Is Air Force Setting a Trap?

The Air Force Falcons travel to Logan, Utah on Saturday to take on Mountain West divisional opponent Utah State. The Falcons enter the game 4-1 with a 1-1 league record while Utah State stands at 3-2 with the Air Force game being their first conference game of the season.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Air Force Falcons head into their Mountain division match up with the Utah State Aggies on an extreme high after back-to-back home wins over Boise State and Navy.  The Falcons, who were predicted by most experts to finish last in the Mountain Division, have an opportunity to get their second key win over one of the Conference favorites this week, but face an equally high flying opponent as Utah State is coming off a key victory over in-state rival BYU. What advantages does Air Force have in their favor as they head into Saturday's late night game?

Game Time/TV - 8:15 p.m. on ESPNU

Series Record - Utah State leads 1-0

Last Meeting - Utah State 52 Air Force 20

Last Week - Air Force 30 Navy 21, Utah State 35 BYU 20

It's a Trap Game!

Utah State is coming off a convincing victory over BYU, a game that ended a lot of frustration for the Aggies and their fans. Next weekend, the Aggies will face Colorado State, who has become the ‘hot' team in the Mountain West after claiming victories over Power 5 Conference teams Colorado and Boston College. Air Force finds themselves sandwiched in between those two games and have the perfect opportunity to find the Aggies attention being somewhere between the past and the future. Plus, Air Force runs a system that requires special preparation, something that can help them pull off the upset against the favored host team. If the players from Utah State don't give the Falcon game plan their complete attention, Air Force has the playmakers in Jacobi Owens, Jalen Robinette and Garrett Brown and the senior quarterback leader in Kale Pearson to make them pay for their mistakes.

Air Force defense will make you one-dimensional

Falcons defensive coordinator Steve Russ has approached this season with an NFL-like aggressive and make your opponent one-dimensional. It has been a huge success as the Falcons are only giving up 116 yards a game on the ground. Those numbers were somewhat inflated last week as the Falcons struggled in the first half against Navy. However, the Falcons adjusted and held the Midshipmen to 36 yards rushing in the second half as they pulled out a tight victory. Navy's rushing total of 251 yards on the ground was 107 yards under the Navy average they entered the game with of 358.4 rushing yards per game. The Falcons will force the Aggies to beat them in the air, where Utah State is averaging 236 yards a game. The Falcons will have to be aware of the hot quarterback however, as Utah State's Darell Garretson is the current Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week after his 321 yard passing performance against the Cougars. The Falcons will counter with the last two Conference Defensive Players of the Week in safeties Christian Spears and Weston Steelhammer.

Air Force has the intangibles

After early season problems with penalties and other discipline breakdowns, the Falcon coaching staff has righted the ship and the team has cut down significantly on penalties. The Falcons are averaging only 5.2 penalties per game, which is good for 30th in the nation. On the other hand, Utah State has some discipline issues, averaging 10 penalties a game which nation wide ranks them 120th. Air Force also has a significant advantage in converting third downs, which many coaches consider to be a hidden key in winning football. The Falcons are converting 46% of their third-down plays as compared to an unimpressive 29% for the Aggies. The Falcons will have a great opportunity to convert drives and play keep away from Garretson and his offense.


  • Air Force has led going into the fourth quarter of every game it has played this season. The Falcons are 47-8 under head coach Troy Calhoun when doing so.
  • Air Force is on a three-game winning streak, its longest since October of 2012.
  • Utah State head coach Matt Wells has extensive experience coaching against Air Force. He was an assistant coach with New Mexico in 2010 and Navy from 1997-2001.
  • Air Force's 63-game streak of a rushing touchdown ended last week versus Navy. Air Force threw four touchdown passes. It was the longest in the nation at the time.