State Championships. Many only dream of winning a state championship in their high school career as the shift of focus leans more towards conference play and bowl games at the collegiate level, but you only get so many opportunities to be seen as the best college team in your state and the Air Force Academy Falcons do have that chance this weekend in a rivalry game in Fort Collins. After their earlier victory over the University of Colorado Buffaloes the Falcons now put their focus solely on the Rams who would like nothing more than to gain revenge after the beating they received last year, and it would also end the chances of a conference and state championship bid for the Falcons.
CSU enters the weekend riding a three game winning streak and brimming with confidence after a hot and cold start to their season, losing to CU at mile high then dominating the University of Arkansas on the road. Coach Bobo finally seems to have found his teams’ identity after a come from behind win over the 2018 conference champion Fresno State Bulldogs in Fresno followed up with a twenty point victory over the UNLV Rebels at home. The Rams will no doubt welcome Air Force to Canvas Stadium to redeem the ground and pounding the Falcons gave them in Colorado Springs lead by fullback Cole Fagan’s career high 260 yards on the ground, the redemption storyline added to this in state rivalry will no doubt add a layer of intensity this Saturday at 5pm.
Air Force is coming off of the impromptu bye week following the tragedy that took place recently at the University of New Mexico, for more information I will add the link to the article I wrote about said tragedy at the bottom of this story, and have now had roughly eight days to prepare for the Rams and fix the part of their team that had been struggling recently. Early on this year the Air Force defense looked like an all time squad, a talented front seven forced pressure on opposing quarterbacks giving the secondary multiple opportunities for turnovers. That trend has flipped in the recent stages of the season, the front seven is still wreaking havoc especially on running backs only allowing an average of 94 yards on the ground per game and 3.4 per rush. The secondary has been lacking recently despite the 90+ yard pick six a couple weeks ago, that was followed up by allowing the Army Black Knights, who have been known to go multiple games without even attempting a pass, throw for 261 yards and two touchdowns. In my article last week I challenged the leaders in the secondary along with their coach Chip Vaughn to find a way to get back to playing a “No Fly Zone”-esque brand of football to both win this weekend but for the rest of the season as well. The Rams passing offense is very average and I believe will be even further hindered by a couple of factors. One, the Falcons defensive line should live in the backfield all game making the quarterback miserable as well as Marcus McElroy- a very explosive runner in the conference. The second is the circumstances surrounding the CSU quarterback position, we don’t know who is going to play. Forgive my ignorance I don’t get the opportunity to watch Rams games often without cable but they have had three separate quarterbacks take snaps this year and that kind of rotation lends itself to a fairly average passing attack.
The offense of the Falcons will play their own role in helping out their defense and the plan should be the do the exact same thing as last year when playing CSU, pound the rock. Colorado State enters the game averaging 200 yards of rushing against themselves and 2 touchdowns a game as well, while on the other side Air Force averages 304 yards rushing and nearly 4 touchdowns. The longer the Falcon offense can stay on the field pounding the running game, the less time the defense will have to be on the field, there is an old saying in football that the best offense is a good defense and I believe that phrase is reflexive in nature to where the best defense is a good offense that can stay on the field and gives the opponent less opportunity to score.
Overall I think that Air Force is much more talented and play better as an entire team, add in the factor of rest on the side of Air Force and you have a recipe for what I believe will be another dominant win and a Colorado college football state championship. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday at 5pm Mountain Standard time.
Score Prediction: AF- 31 CSU-14