The weirdness of the Air Force 2017 football season continued on Saturday as the Falcons dropped a 28-14 loss to Wyoming. Now the Falcons have to face a streaking Boise State team that has won six straight and forced its way into the back end of the top 25.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Don’t back off if grabbing the lead
Boise State has been out of sight for most of this college football season. The Broncos dropped two of their first four games to stand 2-2, looking like a shell of the team that has done so much damage over the last decade or so. Since then though the Broncos have been on a tear, taking down much fancied San Diego State 31-14 back in the middle of October, then staging one of the craziest comebacks of the entire season last weekend at Colorado State.
It is the Colorado State game, in particular, that should have Falcons fans concerned. The Broncos were completely out of it at one point, down by 25 points to a Rams’ squad that knows how to close out games. That is when the Broncos offense took over, reeling in the Rams and clinching the contest in overtime. If Air Force gets the lead, the Falcons must keep the pressure on.
Stop Alexander Mattison
It seems unfair to attribute the Broncos surge to just one player, but running back Alexander Mattison has been the catalyst that has got Boise State going time after time this season. Mattison didn’t have a single game where he rushed for 100 yards during the Broncos 2-2 start, but over their six-game winning streak, he has had four such outings.
Against Colorado State, he was simply peerless as he rushed for 242 yards on 23 carries. He also gained 44 yards catching the ball, setting a school record with 286 yards from scrimmage. When you consider some of the offensive machines that Boise State has had on that offense during the last decade it shows how good Mattison has been.
Win on special teams
The triple-option rushing attack is the reason that most teams fear Air Force. The triple=option will have to be at its best if the Falcons want to upset the Broncos on Senior Night, but during their three-game winning streak over the Boise State, it has been huge special teams plays that have seen Air Force over the line.
In each contest the Falcons have blocked either a field goal or a punt, winning the special teams battle and giving their offense outstanding field position in the process. Big special teams play can turn the momentum of a game in an instant and Air Force will need another huge play in this phase of the game to upset Boise.