Air Force Colorado St Football

Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun leads his players onto the field for the first half of an NCAA football game against Colorado State Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 in Fort Collins, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Air Force inched closer to its first Top 25 of the season after topping Colorado State 38-21 on Saturday night for its fifth consecutive victory, missing inclusion in the USA Today Coaches Poll by two spots and missed an Associated Press ranking by five spots. The Falcons (8-2, 5-1 Mountain West) have appeared in the rankings during two seasons this century, peaking at No. 18 in 2002 and No. 23 in 2010.

• In the available computer rankings (Massey and Sagarin), the Falcons average a ranking of 30.5. Boise State averaged 23.5. This is important because if Boise State, which started a new quarterback this week and may be without disruptive defensive end Curtis Weaver, loses at Utah State on Saturday, it opens the possibility of a three-way tie in the Mountain West’s Mountain Division that would be determined by College Football Playoff rankings, and an edge in computer rankings would bolster the Falcons’ chance of taking the title and hosting the championship game.

• Geraud Sanders ranks third in the nation in yards per reception 24.22 (23 catches for 557 yards and five touchdowns). He sits behind Memphis’ Antonio Gibson (23 for 574, 24.96) and New Mexico’s Jordan Kress (18 for 449, 24.94). Air Force’s Ben Waters has 13 catches for 375 yards, a 28.84 average. To qualify under NCAA rules, Waters would need to average two catches per game. To get there, assuming he plays in the final two games and a bowl game, he would need 13 more catches this season.

• Air Force ranks No. 21 in total defense at 320.6 yards per game, only San Diego State (No. 8, 270 ypg) ranks higher among Mountain West teams. The Falcons rank No. 8 nationally against the run (91 ypg) despite playing the Nos 1 and 3 rushing offenses this season — Navy and Army, respectively.

• The Falcons rank third, behind Ohio State and Alabama, just ahead of LSU and Oklahoma, in third-down conversion percentage at 52.8%. They also rank ninth in fourth-down percentage (75 percent). Only Oklahoma and Alabama (23) have punted fewer times than the Falcons (26).

• The Falcons rank No. 2 in rushing yards and No. 11 in passing efficiency nationally. Their time of possession is tied for fifth.

• Air Force’s 35 penalties are the fewest in the nation, as are their 303 penalty yards.

• Among Mountain West defensive backs, only San Diego State’s Luq Barcoo (11 passes defended, seven interception) has better cumulative pass defensive statistics than Air Force’s Zane Lewis (11 passes defended, one interception).

• Air Force defenders making a push for Mountain West individual honors include nose guard Mosese Fifita (38 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a central figure of the run defense at a spot that doesn’t typically generate big statistics — it would be a massive oversight if he’s not a first-team selection), linebacker Demonte Meeks (team-highs 72 tackles, eight tackles for loss), cornerbacks Zane Lewis (the league’s second-best overall pass-defended statistics) and Milton (Tre’) Bugg III (three interceptions). Jordan Jackson, Kyle Johnson and Jeremy Fejedelem could still play their way into that conversation.

• Offensively, Air Force tailback Kade Remsberg (778 yards, fifth in the Mountain West) and fullback Timothy (Duval) Jackson (734 yards, sixth in the league) have solid chances for postseason honors, and quarterback Donald Hammond III (nine touchdowns, third in the conference) and Geraud Sanders could find their way into at least honorable mention. The offensive line figures to earn several spots on the all-conference first or second teams, with Scott Hattok, Connor Vikupitz, Parker Ferguson and Nolan Laufenberg among the candidates for recognition.

• Kicker Jake Koehnke is a Lou Groza Award semifinalist. He’s 10 of 10 on field-goal tries, with five of those attempts coming from 40 yards and beyond — including a long of 57 yards. Every other kicker in the Mountain West has at least two misses, but most have more attempts.

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