Air Force at Colorado State, 5 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2, 740 AM
SUBPLOTS WE’LL WATCH:
Impact of Jordan Jackson sitting a half
One of the downsides of Air Force’s unplanned off week will be the loss of defensive end Jordan Jackson for the first half. Jackson was ejected late in the Falcons’ victory over Army for targeting, a penalty that would have been enforced in the first half at New Mexico. But that was postponed until Nov. 23 following the death of a Lobos’ player. So instead of missing Jackson against New Mexico, which is winless in the Mountain West, Air Force’s most disruptive pass rusher will not be available for half of the game against the Rams, who have the No. 2 total offense and No. 3 passing offense in the conference. Jackson, a preseason first-team All-Mountain West selection, leads Air Force with 3.5 sacks and is the team’s active leader with eight career sacks.
Defending Colorado State’s Warren Jackson
Air Force has held its own against high-end receivers this year, limiting San Jose State’s Tre Walker and Hawaii’s Cedric Byrd and JoJo Ward – all ranked in the top 30 nationally in receiving yards per game – to a combined 19 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown in a pair of victories. But Colorado State’s 6-foot-6 Warren Jackson, who ranks third in the country with 121.7 yards per game presents a set of challenges with his size and speed. Jackson has averaged 164 yards over his past four games. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said Jackson compares favorably with recent Rams receivers Preston Williams, Michael Gallup, Rashard Higgins and Olabisi Johnson who went on to the NFL. “Every bit of it and more,” Calhoun said.
Has Colorado State changed enough?
Rams coach Mike Bobo has talked about playing more physical against Air Force. The team has talked about discipline against the option. Aside from some innovative ways to bump up team speed, there has been nothing discussed to indicate anything has truly changed on Colorado State’s side to indicate it can suddenly stop an Air Force attack that has averaged 40.3 points and 397 rushing yards during a three-game winning streak in the series. However, the Rams had an off week to heal, rest and prepare. The Falcons had one too, albeit a surprise off week they didn’t know they’d have until three days before they were to play New Mexico. Air Force enters with the nation’s No. 2 rushing offense, while Colorado State features the No. 111 rushing defense.