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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Utah @ Air Force

The Falcons’ comeback attempt falls short in a thriller

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Brigham Young v Utah Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

While we wait for the college football season to begin (hopefully), I thought it would be fun to take a look at some classic Mountain West football games. Last week, we broke down the 2011 showdown between Boise State and TCU; this week, we will be revisiting a great game between Utah and Air Force that took place in 2003. The game went into three overtimes, and Utah was able to come away with a 45-43 victory after completing a two-point conversion. I was in high school when this game was played, so it took a bit of research and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

The Good:

Air Force in the Second Half

The Falcon offense struggled for the first three quarters of this game. They entered the fourth quarter with a 16-point deficit and looked like it would be too much to overcome. The Falcons scored two touchdowns and kicked a field goal in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime. Had it not been for a missed two point conversion, the Falcons would have come away with a win in regulation.

Alex Smith

This was one of the games that really opened the eyes of NFL scouts to Alex Smith. Smith was an absolute monster in this game. He finished the game completing 22 of 32 passes for 297 yards and had 89 yards rushing. Utah running backs really struggled to get going in this game, but Smith’s ability to scramble and maneuver around the pocket is the reason that the Utes were able to come away with the victory.

The Bad:

Air Force Kicking Game and Missed Two-Point Conversions

Any time a game goes into overtime and your kicker misses two of three field goal attempts, you have a reason to be frustrated. The missed field goals, along with two failed two-point conversions, ultimately cost the Falcons the game.

The Ugly:

Air Force in the First Half

The Falcons’ offense struggled in the first half and into the third quarter. They struggled to finish possessions in Utah territory and two missed field goals proved costly. However, long drives and dominating the time of possessions did wear down the Utes and allow the Falcons to make a comeback.

Utah’s Defense in the Fourth Quarter and Overtime

What happened to Utah’s defense after the fourth quarter? The Air Force triple option has a way of wearing down opponents, and that appeared to be the case in this game. The Utes were able to keep the Falcons from finishing possession for the first three quarters, but fatigue eventually caught up with Utah. The Falcons scored on three possessions in the fourth quarter and all three overtime drives. But ultimately, the Utah defense did enough by stopping an Air Force two-point conversion in the third overtime.

That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Do you remember this game? I’d love to hear about your memories in the comments below, and please leave any suggestions for games that you would like covered.