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Air Force Football: Five key Falcons for Mountain West Championship Game

As the Air Force Falcons prepare to face San Diego State in the Mountain West championship game, there are five key players who must rise up to help the Falcons capture the key victory.

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

The Mountain Division champion Air Force Falcons are enjoying their fourth football championship in school history as they prepare for the championship game this Saturday in San Diego versus the San Diego State Aztecs. After winning or sharing the Western Athletic Conference in 1985, 1995 and 1998, Air Force is once again enjoying the view from atop the division. And in the ultimate team sport, it is the team that has the moniker #Bolt Brotherhood that prepares to capture the overall conference championship. But even the best of teams needs some individuals to step up and take the opportunity in the spotlight to capture a championship. Who will be the five key players as the Falcons invade San Diego?

#5 Alex Hansen - Defensive End

The front seven for the Falcons has been a surprising success as they have only allowed 139.5 yards a game on the ground and have harassed and pressured quarterbacks all year. Hansen, whose name was included on the Lombardi Award watch list, has been stellar as a leader this year with 14.5 tackles for loss, seven and half of those being quarterback sacks. He has broken up three passes and has forced one fumble. His ability to pressure an inexperienced quarterback and help bottle up superstar Aztec running back Donnel Pumphrey will be a big key in the defense rebounding from a disappointing game in New Mexico.

#4 Jalen Robinette - Wide Receiver

Robinette is good enough to be a productive receiver in any program in the nation. He is also good enough to play on Sunday's if he so chooses to pursue that route after his military commitments are met. He torched a good Utah State team for 210 yards receiving in the home finale and even though he has modest numbers (21 catches-572 yards and four touchdowns) he is as talented as anyone on the field each and every week. He will face a veteran and talented Aztec secondary, but he has the game to help the Falcons make plays in the passing game.

#3 Weston Steelhammer - Safety

Much like Robinette, the talented junior safety is as good as anyone on the field when he plays. Steelhammer has a nose for the ball, as he has been the leader of the Falcons defense which has amazingly improved with seven new starters. Steelhammer right now has a team leading 72 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss, five interceptions, a fumble recovery and seven passes defended. He had the key interception late to secure the Utah State victory and like last year, he figures to be on the first team All-Mountain West team.

#2 Timothy McVey - Running Back

McVey has been the late season surprise for the Falcons. While he has played in all 12 games this year, his contributions of 349 yards rushing, 250 yards receiving and nine touchdowns have largely come in his last three games. With fullbacks D.J. Johnson and Shayne Davern injured most of the season, the Falcons have reshuffled their backfield and McVey has seized his opportunity. His five touchdown performance versus New Mexico last week puts him in the spotlight this game to see if he can continue to produce at such a high level.

#1 Karson Roberts - Quarterback

Suddenly, after an injury to Aztec starting quarterback Maxwell Smith, Roberts in the seasoned veteran in the championship game. The Aztecs will start redshirt freshman Christian Chapman in his place, a tall order for a player with limited experience. Roberts, a senior with 13 career starts, has overcome some early season problems to play at a very high level the past six games. It didn't help Roberts that his first two starts were against Michigan State and Navy, but once Roberts settled into the role, especially his five touchdown game against Fresno State, the Falcons have gotten their offense on track. He has won five of his last six starts and has run for 591 yards and thrown for 1,411 yards and nine touchdowns. His one area of concern has been turnovers, having thrown 10 interceptions and struggled with pitches that end up on the ground. If Roberts can avoid the untimely turnover, the Falcons will be in the thick of this game.