One of the teams with the most to lose this week is the Boise State Broncos. If they can get some help from the New Mexico Lobos, the Broncos will be in position to win the Mountain West Conference and maintain that Group of 5 New Year’s Six bowl spot. Of course, that’s also contingent on Boise State’s ability to take down the Air Force Falcons. Air Force has won each of the last two meetings and they host this one in Colorado Springs on Friday afternoon.
Boise State vs. Air Force College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday November 25, 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: Boise State -9
Boise State has been favored by 11 and by 13 in this head-to-head matchup each of the last two seasons and they haven’t come away with the win in either of team. These games tend to be rather strange. Air Force was +5 in turnover margin two years ago in Colorado Springs and won 28-14 with the help of seven Boise State turnovers. Last year on the Smurf Turf, Air Force was -4 in turnover margin and won 37-30 anyway. Boise State is 10-1 on the season, but just 3-8 against the spread. The Broncos are 0-6 ATS at home this season, but 3-2 on the road. Air Force is 8-3 straight up, but just 4-7 against the number, as Troy Calhoun’s team has failed to live up to preseason expectations. A win here, however, and Air Force would have a shot at its second 10-win season in the last three years.
Boise State Broncos:
The Broncos are a very attractive team for that New Year’s Six bowl game because they have a ton of offensive weapons. Jeremy McNichols is the country’s leading scorer and he’s well on his way to becoming the program’s all-time leading rusher if he stays for his senior season. McNichols has rushed for 1,575 yards and has 22 rushing touchdowns. He’s added 450 receiving yards and four more scores. True sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien has a 22/6 TD/INT ratio on his 317 attempts with a 64 percent completion percentage. If he stays all four years, he’ll have a shot to top Kellen Moore’s program record for passing yards. Thomas Sperbeck is already the program’s all-time leading receiver. He has his second straight 1,000-yard season. The Broncos average 37 points per game and have picked up 7.1 yards per play.
Boise State is +15.6 points per game in conference play this season, even with the loss to Wyoming as a 14.5-point favorite. The Broncos have just blown teams away since the loss to Wyoming, but they still haven’t been able to cover inflated numbers. The defense has taken some steps back this season. They’ve allowed 22.3 points per game and 381 yards per contest. That’s up from 20.2 and 318 last season. Darian Thompson was a huge loss at safety and defensive end Gabe Perez was lost for the season. The Broncos could be down two starting linebackers this week in Joe Martarano and Tanner Vallejo. That’s the last thing a team wants against a service academy.
Air Force Falcons:
Air Force has had its way with Boise State over the last two years. The Falcons have rushed for 615 yards on 114 carries and they’ve controlled the clock in both meetings. Air Force has had a double-digit lead in both games and it’s very hard to play catch-up against a triple-option offense. The Falcons seem to be thriving on offense with Arion Worthman at the helm. The sophomore quarterback has proven to be a much better runner than Nate Romine and he’s been significantly more accurate as well. Even when people know the run is coming, they can’t stop it, as Air Force has averaged 5.2 yards per carry. That’s down from last season’s 5.5 yards per pop, but still the second-highest mark over the last five seasons. Jalen Robinette is a guy that should play on Sundays with his 6-foot-4 frame and great run-blocking skills. He’s averaged 26.3 yards per catch this season.
The Air Force defense always plays hard and they have an all-name team player and dominant defensive force in Weston Steelhammer. The senior is going to make his third appearance on the All-Mountain West First Team after the season and deservedly so. The Falcons have had some momentary lapses on defense this season, though. They do a great job against the run, with just 3.4 yards per attempt, but they have allowed 14.5 yards per catch. In Mountain West play, the Falcons have allowed 34.1 points per game and 6.1 yards per play.
College Football Free Pick: Boise State Broncos -9.5
Some weird things have happened in these last two meetings and it’s starting to feel like Air Force just has Boise State’s number. We know that we’ll get a max effort out of Air Force each and every week, but Boise should be better prepared this year. It will be Bryan Harsin’s third season seeing the triple-option and that means something. The two injuries at linebacker are a serious worry, but so is the Air Force defense and how they’ve been lit up in conference play. Boise has a potent, efficient offense and that should be the difference this week.