What: Wyoming Cowboys vs. Air Force Falcons
When: Friday, September 16, 2022, 6 p.m. MT
Where: Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, WY
Spread: Wyoming + 16; O/U 47 (via DraftKings)
History: The Cowboys will welcome the Air Force Falcons to the War on Friday, a stadium in which the Falcons have seen limited success over the last few years. The Falcons come in playing well with an undefeated 2-0 record, and some will say as favorites in the Mountain West, but they are 0 for their last 3 against the Pokes in Laramie. The all-time record between these two football teams has Air Force leading the Cowboys with a 30-26-3 record. Last season, the Pokes dropped the matchup vs. Air Force in Colorado Springs, 24-14.
What to know:
In their Week 2 matchup, the Falcons beat up on the Colorado Buffalos 41-10. It was one of the best showings from a Mountain West team so far and the first time their program beat Colorado since 1963. They showed their ability not only to hang with a quality Power 5 program but that they should be considered legit contenders for the 2022 Mountain West crown. The Pokes, on the other hand, also took a step forward. Though they didn’t play a program of quite that level, they still beat the Northern Colorado Bears handily by a score of 33-10 and gained some momentum of their own heading into Week 3. Though these teams have each built up a solid amount of momentum in recent weeks, they are not perfect. The Falcons have had a rough time with turnovers of late, turning the ball over five times in their first two games, and the Cowboys are still in search of an identity on offense and on defense with their new core. The outcome of this game will show a lot about two programs that have been playing good football lately, and this game should be very telling of where each program is going to be headed moving forward.
What to expect from Air Force:
The Falcons run. They run, run, and run, but just because you know that the run is coming doesn’t mean it’s easy to stop. Just ask Northern Iowa and Colorado who they put up a combined total of 89 points against. Their triple option attack means that they can be deceptive in who they hand the ball off to and which direction it goes in. And they have multiple weapons that can deliver that for them. Brad Roberts is choice number one. So far, he leads the Mountain West with 288 rushing yards and 4 TDs in only two games. Numbers two and three are RBs John Lee Eldridge and QB Haaziq Daniels. Daniels is mostly a threat with his legs, but every now and then the Falcons will use him to throw the ball for a big play downfield. They have also handed the ball off to receivers for big yardage gains, so the Cowboys have to be prepared for anything. Anticipation and speed will be key in this game.
The Falcons also have yet to score less than 40 points in a game. Not only do the Falcons score points, control time of possession, and run the ball down your throat, but they’ve also played some stout defense up to this point. Their defense hasn’t allowed more than 10 points in a game to opposing offenses, though a lot of that can be attributed to how well the Air Force offense controls the time of possession.
What to expect from the Cowboys:
The Cowboys’ first three games have all looked a lot different. They opened up in Week 0 against the Illini and got blown out 38-6, which was expected from a brand new group that hadn’t spent much time playing together going up against a Power 5 team. Then, they went on to beat Tulsa in a thrilling overtime victory 40-37. It was a display that caught most Poke fans off guard but indeed did show that the group has some early chemistry and the ability to beat a quality opponent. They then went on to beat Northern Colorado 33-10 in Week 2 in a game that was a little bit closer than the score might indicate and the Pokes might’ve liked.
So what do we expect in Week 3? It’s hard to tell. The Pokes could come out and play well, as they’ve shown they can do in their first two games at the War. They could also show that there’s still a ways to go if they want to compete in the Mountain division this year by allowing the Falcons to control the tempo. To me, it comes down to the defense and QB Andrew Peasley. The Poke defense had trouble defending the Falcons triple option last year, losing that matchup 24-14 and allowing 211 yards on the ground, including 140 yards to returning RB Brad Roberts. Haaziq also threw the ball more than he’s accustomed to, going 7/10 for 110 yards and 1 TD.
But the biggest key to this game may be Peasley.
Peasley has faced the Falcons twice before. Last season while filling in for Logan Bonner at Utah State, Peasley carved the Air Force defense for 190 yards and 3 TDs through the air in a victory for the Aggies. However, in 2020, Peasley’s performance was much more modest. He completed 53% of his passes for 123 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs in a blowout loss. If Andrew Peasley can recreate the 2021 version of himself and the Pokes can control the flow of the game by limiting Air Force possession and sustaining drives, they’ll find themselves with a shot at a victory this Friday night.
The Falcons and Cowboys typically put up a good fight even when one or both teams are having a down year. This Week 3 matchup is the first for each within the Mountain division and there’s a lot at stake regarding the implications of each team's respective season outlook. With that being said, there’s still a lot that’s open for interpretation. The Falcons come in with minimal doubt in themselves after two great showings in their first two weeks. However, Laramie has always been a tough place for Air Force to play and Coach Bohl seems to have their number inside his home stadium. Additionally, the Cowboys will need to come out with their best game in order to beat a team of this caliber. Peasley will need to be the best version of himself, they’ll need to control the clock, sustain drives, and stay disciplined, as well as control the line of scrimmage and cause turnovers on defense. Almost a perfect storm.
I think this game is closer than some might expect. With both squads riding high off of a winning streak and starting to catch a stride, it may end up being a shootout, but I think Air Force will be a little too much for the Pokes to handle in this clash of Mountain division rivals. I’ll take the Falcons by 10.
Air Force 30
*Let me know your thoughts by dropping a comment below and be sure to tune in on CBSSN this Friday night!