Well, the MWC Schedules are out, and I’m sure there will be plenty of complaining about scheduling, but here is my (mostly) unbiased opinion about the 2020 Falcon football schedule.
— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) February 27, 2020
Dust off your VCR.
The ②⓪②⓪ schedule is ready for play pic.twitter.com/nF34p2hmIo
The season opener for the Falcons comes against Duquesne and will be played on Sept 5. The Falcons always open their season against an FCS team in order to assure the opener is at home to provide a nice weekend for Parents Day, when the incoming Freshman can have their parents visit and see their son/daughter after finishing the challenging Basic Cadet Training period. Next comes another early season confrontation with Boise State, and this game could again have a large impact on the eventual MWC champion race. Fortunately, the game will be played at Falcon Stadium, where the Falcons historically perform much better than on the road. The Falcons have some key position losses to fill next year, particularly in the defensive secondary, and Hank Bachmeier proved last year that he can hurt the Falcons with the passing game. The following week the Falcons must face the Purdue Boilermakers on the road, a Power 5 team who have an excellent quarterback, Jack Plummer, returning for his junior year.
After that, the schedule is truly winnable, but given the question marks in the Falcon defense and receiving corp, many of the remaining games could be toss-ups. The margin for the Falcons is perennially tight, with the determining factor usually being the performance of the defense, since the offense can produce plenty of points.
So here is my way too early game-by-game breakdown of the Falcon 2020 schedule:
Sept 5 - Duquesne at home:
This is an FCS team that isn’t that successful. FSC teams have problems with FBS level option teams. 99% chance of a win.
Sept 12 - Boise State at home:
The Falcons have had some success running the triple option at home against the Broncos, but they also had some good playmakers in the defensive secondary for those games. Given the returning talent in the secondary, a loss in this game is likely. If somehow, the Falcons can be victorious, I wouldn’t be surprised by a repeat of 2019.
Sept 19 - Purdue at West Lafayette, Indiana:
A Power 5 team that has been on the uptrend, with a good quarterback, on the road. Probably a loss. As usual with Power 5 opponents, the saving grace is that these teams almost never face this offense, and could be vulnerable to what could be the best running team in the nation. Again, the development of the secondary will be a major factor.
Sept 26 - Fresno State in Fresno:
The Bulldogs under performed in 2019, and have hurdles to jump with developing a new starting quarterback and adapting to a new head coach with a new system. That should give the edge to the Falcons, but under performing on the road has been a problem for Air Force. I’ll mark it in the win column.
Oct 3 - Navy at home:
Navy rode the home advantage and an outstanding performance by Malcolm Perry at quarterback to a comeback win in Annapolis last year. Both those advantages will be gone in 2020. I think there will be enough offensive talent for the Falcons to eke out a close win.
Oct 10 - San Jose State at San Jose, CA:
The Falcons had a pretty easy win against the Spartans, who had the MWC Offensive Player of the Year, Josh Love, at quarterback. Josh Love is gone, hopefully with a job in the NFL, and I don’t see a way for the Spartans to adjust to that loss easily. Put this game in the win column for the Falcons.
Oct 17 - Hawaii at home:
Pretty much the same analysis as the one for Fresno State, with the big exception that the Rainbow Warriors had an outstanding performance in 2019. Cole McDonald moves on and a new head coach arrives to install some new wrinkles. Cordeiro seems able to completely replace the loss of McDonald, but Hawaii was unable to stop the Falcon running attack and an offense led by a third string quarterback. This game should be a home win for the Falcons.
Oct 24 - Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming:
The Cowboys have been extremely hard opponents for the Falcons. The Falcons won in Falcon Stadium in 2019, with some questionable calls going in their favor. I don’t see how next year’s game in Laramie could be easy. Very likely, a loss for the Falcons.
Oct 30 - Open
A good time for the Falcons to get a bye, right in the middle of the season, and right before the faceoff against Army at West Point.
Nov 7 - Army at West Point, NY:
Army had an unexpectedly off year in 2019, and the Falcons handed them a close loss at Falcon Stadium. Jeff Monken has built a good defense and an outstanding ball control option attack at Army, which has made them very competitive to all opponents. The Black Knight should have the edge at home, so I reluctantly have to predict a loss for the Falcons.
Nov 14 - Colorado State at home:
Over the last few years, the Rams have shown little ability to stop the Falcon offense. They can rack up a lot of passing yardage against the Falcon defense, and then make a few mistakes that kill them. With a new coach, and a lot of question marks, I would think the Falcons should handle the Rams at home.
Nov 21 - New Mexico at home:
A floundering program gets a promising new coach next year. I would think it will be too early in the transformation process for the Lobos to beat the Falcons in Colorado Springs. Another win for the Falcons.
Nov 28 - Utah State in Logan, Utah:
Troy Calhoun gets his wish to not play at home over the Thanksgiving Day week. All the cadets are on leave, and the atmosphere in Falcon Stadium is diminished. So, the Falcons get the Aggies in Logan. A win would produce an 8 win season for the Falcons, a loss would make it 7 wins and a 3 win deficit from the previous year. The Aggies lose a (likely) first round NFL draft choice at quarterback and some key players on defense. I just don’t think the Falcons are 3 wins worse than they were in 2019, so I will predict a win on the road, but this could be a loss with an upset in one of the other games.
One key sidenote I would add to this analysis. Brent Briggeman, at the Colorado Springs Gazette, made the observation that the new CBS Sports contract for the MWC gives the option to CBS to televise some MWC games on their main network CBS. Boise State at Air Force on Sept 12 would seem to be a possibility for a nationally televised MWC game on a major network! All MW fans should hope for such an event.