Three games will be played on Friday night this week with a Conference USA tilt between UTEP and Rice and two Mountain West Conference games, one featuring Utah State and San Jose State and the other featuring one of the biggest surprises in the country as an underdog against the poster child of mediocrity. The Air Force Falcons are 8-2 this season after winning just two games last season. The San Diego State Aztecs are a 5-5 team locked in a three-way tie for the Mountain West West Division lead. The two face off on Friday night in San Diego.
Air Force vs. San Diego State College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday November 21, 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Football Betting Favorite: San Diego State -4
Longtime Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun has enjoyed quite a resurgence from his worst season as a coach in 2013. The Falcons were 2-10, but Calhoun was given a vote of confidence by the athletic department and it has certainly paid off. The Falcons are 8-2 this season and 6-4 against the spread. The Falcons were just 6-19 against the number over the last two seasons. San Diego State is 5-5 straight up and 4-6 against the spread this season. Rocky Long is 30-19 straight up and 23-24-2 ATS at SDSU.
Air Force Falcons:
Kale Pearson suffered a terrible injury in the second quarter of the first game of the season last year for the Falcons. That injury seemed to have derailed their season as the offense never fully got on track and the defense was positively awful. Pearson is back this season and the senior quarterback has been excellent. Even though the Falcons and their triple-option offense has run the ball nearly four times more than they have thrown it, Pearson has 13 touchdown passes against just two interceptions. He’s also the second-leading rusher for the Falcons. Jacobi Owens, who is probable for this game, leads the team with over 1,000 yards on the ground. The Falcons defense, a group that allowed over 40 points per game last season, has allowed just 23.6 points per contest, including a 28-14 win over Boise State earlier this season.
San Diego State Aztecs:
Rocky Long knows how to defend the triple-option with years of experience facing the service academies and other teams that utilize that scheme. His unique 3-3-5 defense has taken massive strides this season to hold opponents to just 22 points per game. Last season, the Aztecs gave up nearly 32 points per game. Poor quarterback play from Quinn Kaehler and Nick Bawden has made things difficult for the offense, but Donnel Pumphrey is emerging as the next quality running back at San Diego State. Following in the footsteps of Ronnie Hillman and Adam Muema, Pumphrey has rushed for 1,363 yards. The Aztecs have 1,818 passing yards. The Aztecs play at a slow pace offensively and use their running game to control the clock. This looks like a game without a lot of possessions and a lot of running. The Falcons have managed just 81 points in their last four games against San Diego State.
Free Pick: Air Force
For a side play on this game, look for the Falcons as the number keeps climbing. It could reach 4.5 by kickoff and that seems like a pretty high number in a game that should be rather low scoring. The 3-3-5 limits big plays and that should force the Falcons into long drives, while the Aztecs have very little offensive balance. They may have some success against the undersized Air Force defensive line, but the service academies don’t hurt themselves with penalties and sustained offense has not been a strong suit of the Aztecs.
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