One test right to another for the Air Force Falcons this year as they go through Mountain West play, one week after rolling over the for returning conference champion Fresno State Bulldogs, they now travel to Hawaii to take on the red hot Rainbow Warriors. How will the Falcons fair in this nightmarish travel week while taking on a very talented team
The Falcons handled business last week against the Bulldogs in Colorado Springs which is a good sign for coach Calhoun as it is tough to know how a team is going to respond after losing a big rivalry game when you had a chance to win late. This will truly be a test of his coaching ability but not in a field capacity, this will test his management skills as a head coach. As the “CEO” of the team it will be his job to make sure the long travel goes smooth, his players are able to adjust their internal clocks since Hawaii is a whole four hours behind Colorado. Hawaii not known as a powerhouse but they have a great home field advantage for those reasons I can see this being a scary weekend for the Falcons, fitting as we move our way closer to Halloween.
The team got back on track this past weekend as five different Falcons scored touchdowns including a defensive pick six by Kyle Johnson to seal the game for Air Force early in the fourth quarter. Hammond continued his great season finding the end zone himself as well as throwing a touchdown pass to Ben Waters. The problem I saw with Air Force, and this could be just it picking, the defense gave up 24 points in the first half before coming back and pitching shutout in the second. Tat lapse of mental focus cannot happen this weekend or I believe the Rainbow Warriors will hold the advantage. Speaking of Hawaii they will be returning t the island after traveling to Boise, where surprise surprise, the Broncos handled business and won 59-37. For all the people who thought the Broncos would be too much for Hawaii including myself in that description I was actually very impressed with their offense and the way they were consistent in their scoring against the class of the Mountain West.
Like I mentioned before internal clock is going to be key for Air Force to be able to come away with a win. Saturday’s 5pm start in Hawaii means that the Falcons will feel like it is 9pm at kickoff. It may seem menial but this does affect preparation for the game because players more often than not have a routine and in a strange place with such a time difference it will be difficult to keep the same routine going into this game. The head coach often shows his metal in situations like these if he is able to keep his men focussed as they go into battle. Besides coaching my other x-factor will be the defense of the Falcons, Hawaii scored a lot of points and in the past two weeks Air Force has given up two of their three highest point totals against them. Since it seemed to be a lack of focus that led to Bulldog scores last week coach Calhoun I would guess would be very hands on with his leaders on the defensive side of the ball when trying to keep everyone on track for the game this weekend.
When the schedule was released I would have given the advantage to Air Force without thinking as Hawaii throughout my whole life has just been a fun place where teams go to play and get a mini vacation. However, after seeing how well the Rainbow Warriors have played picking up big wins against Arizona, Oregon State, and Nevada it gives me pause when trying to predict a winner in this game. What was once just a throw away game in my mind now could have real implications on the Mountain West Championship picture, especially for Hawaii. Since it is being played on the island I expect a shootout so my score prediction will be:
Hawaii 45, Air Force 42