1. Expect a close game
Air Force and Nevada share this trait: Both teams find ways to keep games close. This says good things about the Falcons and Wolf Pack. It also says bad things. Five of Nevada’s eight games have been decided by seven points or less. In both of Nevada’s losses, the Wolf Pack fumbled leads. Nevada led South Florida 17-6 and 31-21 and lost 32-31. The Wolf Pack led San Diego State 14-0, 21-6 and 31-20 and lost 39-38 in overtime. Both losses were on Nevada’s home field in Reno. Air Force has recently reversed a trend. The Falcons had lost five straight games decided by eight points or less, but clawed to a one-point victory over Wyoming and a five-point win over New Mexico, coming from behind in both victories.
2. Who will fill the possible hole left by Cody Getz?
Tailback Cody Getz was one of the feel-good stories of college football. He had been little-used during his first three seasons at Air Force and suddenly burst into the national scene with a string of superlative performances. After five games, he led the nation in rushing. A sprained ankle against Wyoming ended his streak, and he had the misfortune of reinjuring the ankle on Air Force’s first play from scrimmage against New Mexico. He is questionable for the Nevada game. Sophomore tailback Jon Lee has the talent to soar well over 100 yards, and coach Troy Calhoun recently complimented his improved work ethic.
3. Air Force’s ability to hang on to the football
The Falcons have fumbled 17 times, losing nine, and nearly all the fumbles have been costly. Calhoun keeps saying he will emphasize ball safety in practice, but the ball keeps coming loose. “You can’t keep putting the ball on the ground,” Calhoun said.
Nevada running back Stefphon Jefferson vs. Air Force defense
When Jefferson watched video this week of New Mexico’s Kasey Carrier’s performance against the Falcons, he must have been smiling. Carrier shredded the Falcons with 338 yards. Jefferson arrives at Falcon Stadium as the nation’s leading rusher with 156 yards per game. But Air Force might find encouragement from watching video, too. Jefferson struggled Saturday in Nevada’s loss to San Diego State, gaining 108 yards in 32 carries, or 3.4 yards per rush. Take away a 22-yard gain and Jefferson averaged 2.7 yards in his other 31 attempts.
1 Air Force’s rank in sacks allowed. No one has sacked an Air Force quarterback this season. (Connor Dietz is the safest quarterback in the state. CU is last in the nation, or 120th, with 32 sacks allowed. CSU is 116th with 25.)
2 Air Force’s rank in national rushing rankings. The Falcons average 352.71 yards per game, second to Army’s 389.14. Nevada is seventh with 272 yards.
16 – Nevada’s rank in national scoring. The Wolf Pack has scored at least 30 points in every game this season.
15 – Times Air Force has punted this season.
18 – Times Air Force has gone for it on fourth down. The Falcons have been successful 10 times.
118 – Air Force’s rank in sacking the quarterback. The Falcons have five sacks this season, and that’s after two against New Mexico.
- David Ramsey, The Gazette