Air Force needs a big performance on Saturday after a stunning loss to Army where the Falcons were outmuscled and outplayed in every aspect of the game. Now they play a Wyoming side that was dynamic in coming back to beat Colorado State a week ago.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Run the ball with success
As one of two option teams in the Mountain West (New Mexico) most conference games late in the season have Air Force facing a defense that has already seen an option look already this year. That is the case with Wyoming, who played the shotgun based option attack of the Lobos two weeks ago, played a much more traditional offense last week, and who now get to face the triple-option assault of Air Force.
To win this game the Falcons will have to play better on offense than they did against the Cowboys in 2016. In that game Wyoming held Air Force to just 337 yards of total offense, the Falcons second-lowest total on the year. The result was a 35-26 win for the Cowboys. In this one Air Force would like to have somewhere around that 337 mark in rushing yards alone, with passes adding to the total. If Air Force can’t run the ball against a beaten down Wyoming defensive line, then it is going to be a long day.
Win the turnover battle
This Air Force team is not playing with a whole lot of confidence right now. The Falcons need a jolt, something to pick them up and drive them forward. They need a big turnover early in this game to set the momentum.
Wyoming has the No. 2 scoring defense in the conference. They allow less than 19 points per game and rank 18th in the entire nation in scoring defense. Last week they held Colorado State 20 points below their season averaged in an admittedly snowy and sloppy game in Laramie. Against a defense like this, the Falcons are going to need to create an extra possession or so via turnovers.
Play for the jersey
This has been a weird and sometimes indescribable year for Air Force. The Falcons knew that 2017 was going to be tough given their losses from a year ago, but even losing 32 starters doesn’t excuse a shutout loss at home to Army in early November.
Up and down is the perfect way to describe this season as Air Force has struggled to find an identity and a purpose with such a young team. There were four losses in a row starting in mid-September, before the season looked to have turned around with three wins. The Army debacle stopped that momentum dead though and the players need to remember who they are representing as they try to win two of their last three games to clinch bowl eligibility.