Apologies for missing the last couple of blog posts, I had an unforeseen medical emergency that left me incapacitated for 5 days, but I am back and ready to talk some Air Force football especially as we get the first leg of the Commander In Chief trophy round robin that takes place every year between Air Force, Navy, and Army. But before we get to the preview of this weeks game lets address the big win last week over San Jose State and the unfortunate news that transpired Wednesday.
First on a somber note the beloved falcon Aurora who had greeted the fans at various Air Force events for over 23 years passed away on Wednesday this week. Aurora was the longest tenured live mascot for the academy and her presence at the games and around the base will be missed by the scores of fans she has interacted with for nearly a quarter century.
And now to lighten up the mood Air Force had a huge bounce back conference win in last weeks contest. Last Friday the Falcons welcomed the Spartans of San Jose State up the Falcon stadium looking to come back from the loss suffered a week prior to the Broncos of Boise State. The Spartans entered on the opposite note of the Falcons having just knocked off Arkansas of the Southeastern Conference and looking to string two wins in a row for the first time all season. 382 rushing yards and half an hour of possession time later and the Falcons had quite literally ran the Spartans back to the plane to return to the bay in preparation for the Lobos of New Mexico. Not only did Air Force control the stat lines for a majority of the game they also posted their highest point total since the opening game against Colgate having the point total be final at 41-24 in favor of the boys in blue.
Pride. An ideal that most teams around the country play for but it takes on a new meaning in the three games between the United States military academies. These games are special because they are the only ones in the country that are played where everyone playing would die for everyone watching. Though football stardom are not in the cards for most of the athletes on the field when the academies do battle winning goes a long way each school would like to bolster a 2-0 record on the year when playing against one another, or at least for the games to be competitive. This was not the case when the Naval academy Midshipmen entered Falcon stadium in early October. Navy was bullied what seemed like from the opening whistle and when the dust settled the Falcons walked away with a 35-7 victory. In what was a rebuilding year for the Midshipmen as they tried to rebound from losing the CIC (Commander in Chief Trophy) to Army for the first time in a decade the talent level on the field was evidently in favor of the Cadets from Colorado Springs.
This looks to be a new year as both schools will take the field holding a 3-1 and 2-1 record respectively, the difference being Navy suffered their first loss to the University of Memphis Tigers just one weekend ago. A quick look at the schedules of the two schools and their is a gap in the level of quality of wins. Navy enters having beaten D1AA opponent Holy Cross as well as East Carolina University of the AAC conference, not necessarily the strongest of schedules so far. It could be safe to say Air Force will be one of the toughest opponents Navy will play all year and the stats so far will back that statement up.
Air Force has scored 138 points on the season leading to an average of 34.5 per game. Normally an offensive coordinator considers their offense successful scoring 28ppg and the Falcons are nearly a touchdown ahead of that pace. In four games Air Force also carries a 1369 yard total on the ground to go along with 15 touchdowns, something military academies are known for. The surprising part of all of this is how well the defense has played so far as well. In those same categories Air Force has surrendered a total of 84 points, 21 per game and allowed just 447 yards rushing against them leading to less than 100 yards per game. This means that many schools fall behind early and do not possess the talent in the trenches to return the pounding or keep the ball to give their defense a break which by average is getting pounded themselves.
For these reasons I predict for Air Force to steal a win in Annapolis, maybe not by 28 points like last year, but I do believe the Falcons will come away with a comfortable win by at least 10 points.
Score Prediction: 27-13 Air Force