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Boise State vs. Air Force: Broncos Closing in on the Cotton Bowl

Boise State must win and finish 11-1, but Air Force is riding a 4 game winning streak

NCAA Football: UNLV at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State plays their final game of the regular season this Friday at 3:30 ET as Air Force (8-3) visits Falcon Stadium. This is a huge game for the 20th-ranked Broncos because if they can win this game, they will finish with a 11-1 record and have a chance to play in the Cotton Bowl as the highest ranked mid-major champion.

To do so, they need Wyoming to lose to New Mexico so that Boise State would be the Mountain Division Champion. If they fail to win their division, Boise State will go to a much lesser bowl. Currently, they are projected to go to the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 17 to play Arizona State. These are the key match-ups that Boise State must win to beat Air Force

Jeremy McNichols vs. Air Force Defense

McNichols has been an absolute beast all season. In last week’s win over UNLV he rushed for 206 yards on 31 carries and scored four touchdowns. No one has been able to stop McNichols all season, and the Air Force defense will have their hands full trying to slow him down.

This will be the toughest test that McNichols has faced all year. The Air Force rushing defense is ranked 19th in the country. They are only allowing an average of 121.1 yards rushing per game. This is the classic case of the unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, and the winner of the battle will likely decide the outcome of the game.

Brett Rypien vs. Air Force Defense

If the Air Force defense can do what no other defense has been able to do and stop McNichols, it will be up to Rypien to lead Boise State to victory. The sophomore quarterback has been impressive this year, throwing for 3,025 yards and 22 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Facing Air Force’s stout run defense, he will have to find the open receivers if the Falcons crowd the box.

Boise State Defense vs. Air Force Rushing Game

Ironically, Air Force has no air attack. They are a ground-based offense that runs over opponents. They are averaging 323.5 yards rushing per game, which ranks them fourth in the nation. Boise State has been very good against the run this year, but they have not faced a rushing offense of this caliber. They must find a way to force stops to avoid letting Air Force control the clock and wear them down.

The Broncos will need to be focused and avoid mistakes to come out on top. If they can do that and get a little help from the Lobos, Boise State fans can start making travel plans for the Cotton Bowl. The oddsmakers have made Boise State a 10-point favorite, but Broncos fans shouldn’t let that line make them feel overconfident. Air Force is a very good football team, and they will be highly motivated to finish out the regular season with a win. The Falcons have a lot of confidence, coming