The Wyoming Cowboys (0-5, 0-1) will travel to face the Air Force Falcons (2-2, 0-1) in a Mountain West Conference matchup Saturday night. Wyoming picked up a 17-13 win at home as a 1 point underdog in the most recent meeting on September 6, 2014.
Wyoming was clipped 31-13 on the road by Appalachian State last week to remain winless on the year. Air Force was clipped 33-11 by Navy on the road in a battle of service academies after having a bye the week before. Kickoff from Falcon Stadium at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado and will be televised on ESPN2. Air Force is currently a 23.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 56 points in this contest.
Wyoming won the offensive battle against Appalachian State as they had 373 total yards to 314 for the Mountaineers. The Cowboys were hurt by a -2 in the takeaway/giveaway ratio in the game; Cameron Coffman had an interception returned for a score that put Wyoming in a 14-0 hole less than five minutes into the game. Wyoming dominated the time of possession as they held the ball for 37:54 to App State’s 22:06 but if you can’t finish drives with points, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
The Cowboys rely more on the passing game than the run as they average 230 yards a game through the air compared to 166.4 yards per game on the ground. They’re leaky defensively as opponents are hanging 34.4 points per game so far this season which leaves them 104th in the nation in scoring defense. Cameron Coffman has been a nice find at quarterback as he’s completed 88 of 134 throws for 1,099 yards with nine touchdowns and four picks on the year. The run game is pretty much Brian Hill: he has 99 rushing attempts for 669 yards and three scores; the rest of the team has run the ball 99 times for 163 yards plus two touchdowns on the season. Coffman looks often for Tanner Gentry (29 receptions, 516 yards, 3 TD) and Jake Maulhardt (25 grabs, 247 yards, TD) in the passing game when they need to have a big play. Jacob Hollister (14 receptions, 163 yards, TD) is the only other player with double digit receptions for Wyoming. Tristan Bailey has hit 11 of 13 extra points but has missed all four field goal attempts this season.
Air Force was down 21-0 at the half against Navy and trailed 27-0 in the third quarter before getting on the scoreboard but it was far too little, too late. The Falcons were outgained 387-277 in the contest and turned the ball over four times while failing to force a Navy turnover in the contest. Air Force lost the time of possession battle, 32:30 to 27:30, though they did have 15 first downs to 14 by Navy. The fact that the Falcons couldn’t get started in the first half did them in against a tough Navy squad.
The Falcons throw for just 91.2 yards per game through the air (125th in the nation) but they are fifth in the nation in rushing with 326.2 yards per contest. They average 33 points per game and are 57th in scoring defense with an average of 22.8 points per contest. Karson Roberts (11 of 21, 222 yards, TD, 2 INT, 72 rush yards, TD) is the quarterback now with Nate Romine done for the season with a knee injury. Six players have run for at least 100 yards this season for the Falcons with D.J. Johnson (48 carries, 240 yards, 5 TD) and Jacobi Owens (41 carries, 222 yards) doing the majority of the work. Garrett Brown (nine receptions, 193 yards) and Jalen Robinette (four grabs, 120 yards, 2 TD) are the only players with more than two catches for the Falcons. Drew Oehrle has hit 14 of 15 extra points and 2 of 3 field goals this season. Luke Strebel has converted both his extra point attempts this season.
Air Force is 5-0 ATS in their last five at home, 4-0 ATS in their last four on grass, 5-1 ATS in their last six overall, 9-2 ATS in their last 11 after running for more than 200 yards, 4-1 ATS in their last five conference games and 5-2 ATS in their last seven after a straight up loss of at least 20 points. Wyoming is 2-5 ATS in their last seven after an ATS win, 2-6 ATS in their last eight overall, 2-12 ATS in their last 14 after giving up at least 200 yards on the ground, 1-7 ATS in their last eight after allowing less than 170 yards through the air, 0-4 ATS in their last four conference games and 0-6 ATS in their last six after scoring less than 20 points in their last game.
The Cowboys have struggled this season on both sides of the ball; outside of Hill in the run game, there hasn’t been a ton to be excited about on that side of the ball. Dealing with a power run game in the triple option that Air Force runs will be a daunting task for Wyoming to deal with. Air Force won’t run up the score but Wyoming doesn’t score all that much which is why the Falcons will cover, even if barely doing so.