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Up in the air: Boise State vs Air Force preview

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John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Game facts

  • Time: Friday, 1:30pm MT
  • Location: Falcon Stadium, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Weather at kickoff: 55°, Sunny
  • Odds: Boise State by 8.5
  • TV: CBS Sports Network
  • Radio: KBOI 670 AM
  • Commentators: Carter "Blackbird" Blackburn, Aaron "Hot takes" Taylor, Jenny "Delly" Dell

Other facts

1. Ugh

Seriously...this is the way the powers-that-be decided the Broncos needed to end their regular season? This game has turned into a nightmare scenario for the Broncos the last 2 seasons and with zero margin-for-error (and needing a Wyoming loss this weekend), it'll be a hold-on-to-your-hat affair for Boise State in Colorado Springs. Sure, the Broncos have avenged 3 of their 4 losses from last season and they already showed they can (largely) handle the triple-option, however, some strange juju is in the air when these two teams meet and all that Thanksgiving starch won't be sitting well. The Broncos can't seem to put the Falcons away of late and this conjurs another post-Thanksgiving meltdown from all the way back in 2010. /shudder

2. Two men down

Technically, we're more than two men down...but the current men that are down don't fill my heart with gladness (nor take away all my sadness) going into the Air Force game. Tanner Vallejo had to call it a career last week after opting for surgery to repair ligament damage in his wrist and Joe Martarano, who had already been somewhat limited this season, fractured his fibula against UNLV and will not be an option against the, y'know...option. The Broncos will need to rely on a shallower depth chart at linebacker...but are still pretty solid from top to bottom with Weaver, Whitlock and Lee, but it would be nice to at least get Leighton Vander Esch back in the mix and what luck!

3. Watch your knees

The Broncos have a decent D-line, but depth isn't stellar. It could get less stellar as the game wears on Friday as service academies are masters of the cut-block due to their less-than-ideal size requirements. We've called it ACL Awareness week in the past, but seriously...watch those knees, fellas. We need every last one of you.

4. I cannot lie, these helmets are awesome

helm

Streaks

Boise State - Won 3

Air Force - Won 4

Sticks

sticks

Best name on their roster

You simply cannot beat safety Weston Steelhammer, Son of Odin, first of his name

Best player picture on their roster

Again, I'm going with senior Falcon safety Weston Steelhammer, who has the name of a Nordic god but actually looks like Eric Stoltz.

Players to watch

Arion Worthman

The soph QB has largely taken over the starting job from senior Nate Romine and is still not a true passing threat...but who needs to pass when you can rush for over 200 yards like Worthman did last week against San José State? Not sure if there's a correlation yet, but the Falcons have won all 4 of the games that Worthman started. The hives...here they come.

Jacobi Owens

Everyone on the Falcon offense will run the ball at some point...probably even the center, so Owens isn't special in that regard, but he is the top back in the Air Force offense so he might get a few more looks than the others (unless their center really gets in a good rhythm). Owens has rushed for 737 yards this season and scored thrice.

Jalen Robinette

Being a wide receiver in the triple-option can be lonely...but Robinette has carved out a niche as a big play wideout in Colorado Springs and has the added benefit of being wide open a LOT. Robinette would be putting up respectable numbers in any offense, but the fact that he has nearly 800 receiving yards in the triple-option speaks volumes. The fact that he has 5x more receptions than his Falcon counterparts also tells you all you need to know about the hierarchy at AFA.

Timothy McVey

Bummer of a name, but heckuva player. McVey—a somewhat diminutive junior—is the second-leading rusher on the Falcon offense, but their top scorer (10 TDs to Owens' 3). McVey is also the second-leading receiver for the Falcons and moonlights as a pretty darn effective kick returner. That's really his name, but you're going to be hearing it a lot...so get the spittakes out of the way now.

Weston Steelhammer

Steelhammer is a guy that I wish would just graduate already. The two-time first team All-MWC defensive back has ruined the Broncos day the last two seasons and he certainly doesn't look like he's slowed down much in his old age. Steelhammer already has 6 INTs this season and isn't the type of guy you want to test. Just go back to Asgard and leave us mortals be!

Roland Ladipo

A first-team All-MWC defender last season, this senior could make things difficult for Bronco WRs (as he did last year). Luckily, he can only cover one at a time.

Players NOT to watch

D-lineman Alex Hansen and O-lineman Sevrin Remmo were both All-MWC first teamers a year ago, but both have gone off into the wild blue yonder.

Keys to victory

  • Win the turnover battle. Two years ago, the Broncos decided to test the theory that you could win a game while committing 7 turnovers. Spoiler alert: they couldn't.
  • Stop the run. Easier said than done agains the triple-option, but they don't have a whole lot more to offer on offense besides Robinette bombs. The Bronco defenders must stay disciplined and keep contain or it will be a looooong day.
  • Don't lose. Do this...then pray that Wyoming does the opposite.

Score prediction

Boise State 38, Air Force 27