Air Force plays at Utah State at 5 p.m. Saturday in a matchup of the teams that tied atop the Mountain West's Mountain Division a year ago (the Aggies took the title based on the head-to-head tiebreaker).
SUBPLOTS WE'LL WATCH
Will contrasting styles again bring fireworks?
Utah State’s high-speed offense lines up and snaps it as fast as possible and has passed on 44 percent of its offensive plays. Air Force methodically eats clocks and has run on 89 percent of its plays this season. Those styles made for a combustible mix last year when the Falcons faced the Aggies for the first time since coach Blake Anderson took over. Utah State won 49-45 as the teams put up 1,247 combined yards (628 for Utah State – 448 through the air, 180 on the ground; 619 for Air Force – 437 on the ground, 182 through the air). Sure, it’s a new year, but both coaches and systems remain in place. So could an encore be in store?
Air Force continues to fight war of attrition
The Falcons (unofficial) injury list remains long, and that’s just when looking at the skill spots on offense. Slot receiver Cade Harris (a Utah native), slot receiver Dane Kinamon and tight end Kyle Patterson are all out. There is a chance quarterback/running back Zac Larrier, tailback DeAndre Hughes and fullback Omar Fattah could play. In two of the past three games the Falcons have failed to score more than 14 points. While that likely has more to do with the defenses they faced in that stretch than anything else, the injuries could certainly be a factor and may continue to be one this week.
Impact of new Utah State quarterback
Cooper Legas is Utah State’s new quarterback after a season-ending injury to Logan Bonner. Legas is a dual-threat quarterback who had an offer from Air Force out of high school in Orem, Utah. He completed 19-of-31 passes last week against BYU, throwing for 188 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran 20 times for 51 yards and a touchdown. If he can keep Air Force defenders chasing him around outside the pocket, this could be a long night for the Falcons.
BY THE NUMBERS
Utah State’s rank (10th out of 12) in the Mountain West in scoring offense (17.6 ppg) and scoring defense (36.4 ppg). Air Force is second in scoring offense (32.8) and first in scoring defense (14.8 ppg).
Point spread for Air Force. The Falcons have been double-digit favorites in each of their games against FBS teams this season (there was no official line vs. FCS Northern Iowa that The Gazette found). They’ve covered the spread twice (vs. Colorado and Nevada), won without covering once (Navy) and lost at Wyoming.
Transfers from Power Five programs on Utah State’s roster, with players coming from, among others, Alabama, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska and Texas.
The margin between Air Force’s national-best 369.8 rushing yards per game and No. 2 Army (298.8). The same margin separates No. 2 and No. 10 (Oregon, 228.8) on the list.
Points scored between Air Force and Utah State in the Aggies’ 49-45 victory at Falcon Stadium last season. The Falcons have had only one game with more combined points (a 49-46 win over Colorado State in 2016) since 2005.
Yards on a kickoff return for a touchdown against Weber State for Utah State’s Terrell Vaughn. Vaughn had the tall task of replacing Savon Scarver, the most prolific returner in Mountain West history, and he ranks first in the conference with 32.3 yards per return through five games.