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Air Force quarterback Donald Hammond III dives for a touchdown against the Nevada Wolf Pack in this file photo from September 2019 at Falcon Stadium at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. 

History is again offering a strong suggestion of what to expect from this week’s Air Force football game.

The Falcons host Nevada at 6 p.m. Friday on FS1, and the past meetings have a lot to say.

Last year Air Force won 41-39 in triple overtime in Reno, Nev. The meeting before that, Nevada came to Falcon Stadium and won 28-25. The three meetings before that included a pair of 45-42 outcomes with the teams splitting and a 45-38 overtime win for the Falcons.

The past five meetings have seen Air Force win three times. The Falcons have scored 39.6 points per game and Nevada has averaged 38.4.

“Air Force is always a battle,” Nevada running back Toa Taua said in July. “Those guys are always going to bring it every year.

“That’s one of the first games you look for when that scheduled drops. You look for that blue AF.”

Much has changed on Nevada’s side of this series that, if it continues to produce such close games, could blossom into a full-fledged rivalry.

Coach Jay Norvell left this past offseason for Colorado State, taking 11 transfers from the Wolf Pack with him to Fort Collins. Quarterback Carson Strong, who threw for 4,175 yards, 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season, left for a shot at the NFL, signing with Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent before being released on Aug. 30.

The Wolf Pack (2-2) hired former assistant Ken Wilson as the new coach and, in a vast departure from the Air Raid offense employed by Norvell, have rushed for almost as many yards (554) as they have thrown for (606) through three games.

The changes are drastic enough it might seem any past results are rendered moot, right?

Well, that’s what was thought last week when Air Force (2-1, 0-1 Mountain West) and Wyoming met in Laramie, Wyo., last week. It was the first meeting at War Memorial Stadium since 2018 — enough time for a near-complete overhaul of both rosters — yet the script remained the same. The Cowboys won 17-14, keeping Air Force winless at Wyoming since 2012.

Nevada and Air Force met last year in the middle of November, so there will still be plenty of familiarity between the two teams familiar with closely contested shootouts.

The early line put the Falcons as 24-point favorites. They were favored at Wyoming by more than two touchdowns. History prevailed once. Nevada hopes to benefit from the same.

“When we see Air Force we know what’s coming,” linebacker Devonte Lee said. “We know they’re going to run the ball a thousand times. We just have to stop it.

“It’s going to be a fun one.”


History of tight contests

Air Force and Nevada have produced close games throughout their brief history against each other.

2012 - AF 48-31 (at AFA)

2013 - Nevada 45-42 (at Nevada)

2014 - AF 45-38 (at AFA) OT

2017 - AF 45-42 (at Nevada)

2018 - Nevada 28-25 (at AFA)

2021 - AF 41-39 3OT (at Nevada)

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Game analysis and insights from The Gazette sports staff including columns by Woody Paige and Paul Klee.

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