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Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Statistical Breakdown and Prediction

The time is close at hand for the Air Force Falcons and the Western Michigan Broncos to battle in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Final statistical breakdown and a prediction are all that is left before kickoff Saturday afternoon in Boise, Idaho.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl season opens Saturday, December 20th, and the Air Force Falcons will be playing in their 24th bowl game in school history, and their seventh in the last eight years, when they face the Western Michigan Broncos on the blue turf in Boise, Idaho.


Western Michigan Broncos

Air Force Falcons

2014 Record

8-4

9-3

Last Game

Air Force 27 Colorado St. 24

Northern Illinois 31 W. MIchigan 21

Head Coach (Record)

P.J. Fleck (9-15)

Troy Calhoun (58-44)

Head Coach Bowl Record

First Bowl game as Head Coach

2 Wins - 4 Losses

All-Time Record

527-429-4

365-308-13

Bowl Record

0-5

10-12-1

Last Bowl Appearance

2011 - Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl - Lost

2012 - Armed Forces Bowl - Lost

Both squads enter the bowl game having had remarkable turnaround seasons. Air Force was 2-10 in 2013 with a defense that gave up 40 points a game. Saturday, they will look to improve their win total by eight games as they seek their 10th victory. The 2014 Air Force team has tied the 1958 team as the best single season win improvement team with their current seven game improvement. Nationally, the Falcons are tied with their opponent Western Michigan, who improved from 1-11 in 2013 to 8-4 this season, and TCU for the top turnarounds nationally. The winner of the bowl game will either be the only team or share with TCU the nation's biggest turnaround season.

The Statistical Game


Air Force Offense

Western Michigan Defense

Western Michigan Offense

Air Force Defense

Points/Gm

30.9

23.8

34.6

24.2

Rushing Avg.

272.2

142.7

178.5

140.3

Passing Avg.

151.3

229.3

264.8

256.0

Yards per play

5.5

5.5

6.6

5.7

Fumbles-Lost

19-12

13-9

21-9

11-7

Third Down Conversion

48%

42%

48%

36%

Time of Possession

31:27

26:46

33:14

28:33

The Falcons and Broncos are very similar when analyzing their overall season statistics. Both are ball control teams that like to run to set up the pass. The Broncos are the more dynamic passing team and it is that area where they hold the significant advantage over Air Force and its secondary. Defensively for the Falcons, they have been very good against the run and also in getting the opposing team off the field on third down situations. Air Force will look to contribute to the late season struggles of Western Michigan running back Jarvion Franklin. Franklin, who was the MAC freshman and offensive player of the year, did not crack 100 yards rushing in any of the final three games, and only averaged 3.8 yards per carry which was far below his season averages.

Offensively, the Falcons will continue to utilize its triple-option attack that ranks seventh in the nation in rushing yards. Kale Pearson seems poised to return and play in his final Air Force game. Pearson has been dynamic in 2014, rushing for 646 yards and six touchdowns as well as passing for 1,513 yards and 14 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Pearson's return will help soften the loss of sophomore running back Jacobi Owens, who missed the last two regular season games and will miss the bowl game as well. The Falcons will use junior running back Devin Rushing in the tailback slot, but will look to establish the fullback tandem of Shayne Davern and D.J. Johnson who were highly effective late in the year for Air Force. Wide receivers Garrett Brown and Jalen Robinette will be targeted as well in play-action situations, as the Air Force have as good a set of receivers as any in Air Force football history. The combo has combined to catch the ball 69 times for 1,137 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Fearless Forecast for Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

This bowl game could be the most competitive and exciting of all the Mountain West matchups. Two dynamic offenses will look to impose their will on the ground against solid run defenses. Air Force has seen a running back like Franklin before in Boise State's Jay Ajayi and they were successful in stopping the junior and forcing him to turn the ball over twice. The Falcons can shut down the Western Michigan running attack and force them to pass the ball. Expect a big play in the pass defense from Weston Steelhammer or Jordan Mays to shift momentum to the Falcons who will build a lead and play keep away with a dominating time of possession effort. Robinette will provide two or three huge plays in the passing game and the Air Force Falcons will defeat Western Michigan by a score of 35-27.