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Lobo Pack: Air Force Preview and Prediction

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Friday Night Lights for UNM

New Mexico v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

What:

New Mexico Lobos vs. Air Force Falcons

When:

Friday November 20th, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. MT

Where:

Falcon Stadium on the campus of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Coverage:

On the television side the game will be nationally broadcast on Fox Sports 1. On radio the game will be broadcast on the Lobo Radio Network/Lobo Sports App/770 AM and 96.3 FM KKOB in Albuquerque.

Series:

Air Force owns a 23-14 lead in the series and have won the last two contests between the two schools. Last season’s game was a 44-22 Air Force win.

Breakdown:

The New Mexico Lobos will look to end their 12-game winning streak tonight when they visit the Air Force Falcons in a game televised on Fox Sports 1 and the Lobo Radio Network. The Lobos will enter the game with an 0-3 record, while the Falcons are 1-2.

The game will be Air Force’s first since October 31st due to COVID-19 issues within the USAFA. The last time out they were defeated by Boise State by a final of 49-30.

The New Mexico Lobos lost to Nevada last week by a final of 27-20, in a game that Lobo head coach Danny Gonzales felt that the team had a chance to win but let get away in the fourth quarter.

What to expect from Air Force:

The Falcons may be a little rusty at the start due to the long layoff between contests, but don’t expect them to struggle all game.

Air Force is known best for their triple-option attack with usually four different players that have a shot to carry the ball on a given play. Against Boise State it was really effective, going for 415 yards on the ground against the Broncos.

The Falcons have a myriad of players that can be threats on the ground. Brandon Lewis had 10 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown against Boise State. If quarterback Haaziq Daniels is a go he ran for 96 yards and a touchdown against Navy. He is recovering from a shoulder injury. If he cannot go, Warren Bryan will start and he had success against Boise State, rushing for 87 yards on 19 carries.

The X-Factor for the Lobos:

Normally for the last several weeks the pass defense has been named the Lobo x-factor. They may not need them as much this week going up against the Air Force option attack. And given the Lobos ability this season to stop the rush, there is a change in the x-factor for this week.

The x-factor this week will be who starts at quarterback. Tevaka Tuioti is listed as of this writing as a game time decision. He missed last week with a concussion and is still in protocol. He was able to move the football really well against Hawai’i before being knocked out.

Trae Hall was solid in both the time he played against Hawai’i and in his start last week against Nevada. He turned the ball over once in both games which ended up being critical turnovers.

Whomever starts for the Lobos, it will be even more critical tonight to not turn the ball over due to the Falcons’ ability to work the clock. The Falcons had over 37 minutes time of possession against Boise State.

Final thoughts and prediction:

Rocky Long’s defenses have had a history of slowing down the Air Force option attack over the years. The last time a Rocky Long defense faced Air Force was in 2018 when he was the head coach at Air Force and the Falcons were slowed to just 215 yards on the ground.

The last time Rocky was in Albuquerque facing the Falcons, the Lobos held Air Force to 227 yards on the ground. Much lower than the Falcons average.

Knowing that the defense can slow the run game of Air Force, it will be up to the offense to produce enough and not turn the ball over in order to get the win. The running game should be solid with the triple threat of Bryson Carroll, Bobby Cole and Nathaniel Jones. Whoever starts at quarterback, Tuioti or Hall, is very capable of moving the football up and down the field.

I think the Lobos will finally get over the hump. I like the Lobos winning 28-17.