Bettors who follow the Mountain West college football conference can all agree that Arion Worthman is a fantastic quarterback. The question is whether Air Force has any kind of defense to back him up.
Following frustrating losses to Michigan, New Mexico and San Diego State, Worthman and the Falcons found themselves losing by 3 touchdowns to rival Navy. The junior QB led a furious comeback, only to see a 45-41 lead evaporate in the closing moments. Last week, Worthman almost-singlehandedly rescued the Academy from a devastating loss to MWC also-ran UNLV, scoring 5 times on the ground in a 34-30 squeaker.
How a defense that held schools like Michigan and SDSU at bay for most of 4 quarters can look helpless against mediocre conference opposition is a wonder, but that’s service academy football for you. The Falcons rely on effort, running to the football and terrific schemes drawn up by Trey Calhoun and the coaching staff. If those ingredients are missing, there’s no overwhelming athleticism to fall back on.
This Friday, Air Force travels to visit Nevada – a program having major issues of its own. The Wolf Pack could hardly have fallen further from the Colin Kaepernick glory days, standing at 1-6 overall with only a win over Hawaii keeping them out of Baylor-territory. Then again, the Pack has played one more game than the Bears have.
Bookies don’t trust Air Force to win on the road by more than a touchdown or a field goal.
Who: Air Force Falcons at Nevada Wolf Pack
When: Friday, October 20th, 9:30 PM EST
Where: MacKay Stadium, Reno, NV
Lines: Air Force (-5.5) at Nevada (+5.5) / O/U Total: (65)
Nevada’s offense has awoken in the past 2 weeks. QB Ty Gangi had a bad day against Fresno State 3 weeks ago, but was returning from injury. In the win over Hawaii, the junior went 25-of-32 with 4 touchdowns and just 1 pick. Last weekend, he passed for 400+ yards and another 4 scores as the Wolf Pack lost a 44-42 heart-breaker to CSU.
If the hosts can produce a quality running offense to help protect Gangi in the pocket, an upset win could be in the offing. Nevada rushed for 268 yards against Hawaii, but only 56 yards against Colorado State. Gangi has been considered “un-coachable” throughout much of his career, which shows up often in bad decisions made in the read-option running game.
Air Force coaches will draw up a few blitzes and coverages to confuse the QB. Whether the players can execute them is another matter. Will it take another explosion of offense to subdue Nevada?
Drawn to utilizing Worthman’s strengths, the Falcons have chosen to only run out of their patented Flexbone offense about half of the time, putting him in the shotgun for another half of the plays. The result is a slow-starting attack that is a little too fancy for its own good at times.
If Air Force runs hard from under center and doesn’t try to out-finesse the Wolf Pack, they’ll win. But that scenario is far from certain. Injuries and a loss to eternal-rival Navy have dampened the campaign.
Bet the over. Nevada’s offense is a different unit than we saw at the start, and Worthman has shown he can run and pass the Falcons into the lead from any deficit. 75+ points could be scored as the over wins money on Friday.