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A Mountain West Mountain Division showdown is on tap Saturday evening as the Colorado State Rams host the Air Force Falcons.
Following a rocky start, Colorado State has won three consecutive vs. sub .500 competition to join this winter’s bowl chase. Mike Bobo’s offense has rallied since Oct. 11, averaging 37.6 ppg. Following Colin Hill’s season-ending injury, Nebraska transfer Patrick O’Brien has gradually secured his role as the Rams’ starter. During O’Brien’s previous three outings the 6-5, 250 lb pocket presence has thrown five touchdowns against one interception and 976 yards to highlight CSU’s unbeaten run.
Meanwhile, Air Force has erased bitter recent 5-7 campaigns by grabbing a 7-2 start. The Falcons’ two-way efficiency has sparked winning nights as AF recently downed Army 17-13 to cap a 5-1 stretch. Unfortunately, last week the Falcons’ scheduled game vs. New Mexico was postponed after the death of NMSU linebacker Nahje Flowers. Flowers’ cause of death wasn’t made public. Air Force and New Mexico will play a makeup game scheduled for Nov. 23.
The Falcons enter this weekend’s road contest as 10.5 point road favorites. Air Force ran away from CSU 27-19 during the teams’ 2018 finale.
The Falcons’ 4-1 conference record ranks second. Colorado State’s 3-2 mark ranks fifth.
Air Force battling for conference titleAs Air Force’s battle with Boise State atop the MW-Mountain division reaches a climax, today’s contest is vital for the Falcons’ odds to secure an MWC title. A win today also keeps alive Air Force’s double-digit victory bid this season.
Led by an experienced offense (34.4 ppg, #29 FBS) and defense (20.9 pa, #29 FBS) the Falcons have rolled through their last four opponents, only stammering a bit during an early-Nov. 17-13 defensive chess match vs. Army. Led by Tim Jackson and Josh Stoner’s ground scores, AF’s prolific rush onslaught added 328 yards while serving as the team’s primary mover. At critical junctures, the Falcons’ defense held serve as Army finished with 343 yards total offense and one end zone strike.
Maybe next year, Army— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) November 2, 2019
There’s little doubt Air Force’s downhill push can wear against a CSU run defense allowing 204 ypg. Though, with touchdown leader Kadin Remsberg’s status questionable this weekend, Darrell Hammond cannot afford any turnovers vs. surging Colorado State.
CSU looking to keep momentum going from homeWhen their season appeared lost following Hill’s knee injury, behind smart coaching, Colorado State gradually pieced together winning infrastructure. The cornerstone to that design, as noted, became Pat O’Brien. While not flashy like Hill, when times appeared dark, O’Brien met his offense with increasingly familiar scoring drives. Now, O’Brien and Colorado, coming off a bye week, are primed to claw back to .500 vs. division surprise Air Force.
The Rams’ most recent win came 37-17 Nov. 2 opposite host UNLV. Colorado State’s three rushing scores -one each from backs Christian Hunter, Marcus McElroy and Jaylen Thomas- offset Rebels quarterback Kenyon Oblad’s two-touchdown, 280-yard day. CSU’s edge rush added five sacks, as Anthony Hawkins’ 99-yard punt return and the Rams’ kicking corps added three field goals to decide matters.
Brimming momentum, and home field, rested CSU gains their signature-upset chance on Saturday. The Rams’ 31.7 ppg ranks #52 FBS and their 32.0 ppg #96.
- Rams are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 conference games.
- Rams are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- Rams are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
- Rams are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games on fieldturf.
- Rams are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a bye week.
Trends courtesy of Covers.com
- Falcons are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games on fieldturf.
- Falcons are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS loss.
- Falcons are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game.
- Falcons are 3-10 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
- Falcons are 0-8 ATS in their last 8 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Riding momentum, Colorado State from home will test Air Force’s resolve. In a conference rivalry between streaking teams, AF’s run game and defense are paramount to not only picking up an eighth 2019 win, but in their bid to beat Saturday’s spread -a spread which is set just a bit high given CSU’s rest, health and rolling offense.
I’ll side with home-field and momentum while taking Patrick O’Brien’s arm and the Rams’ running game to beat the spread Saturday. Air Force has an underrated fight on their hands this weekend, especially if Remsburg sits. Colorado State stands 6-3 ATS this year.
Prediction: Colorado State
Full-Game Total Pick
I’ll take the slight over lean in this contest as each team adds offensive firepower. While AF’s defense is on another level than Colorado State’s, home field will help the Rams to push through on third-down situations and in the end-zone.
I like how the Rams have gelled on both sides of the football this past month. Look for a quality O’Brien outing, along with CSU ground gains. Air Force’s run game will, as usual, add points. And, this weekend, so will Colorado State’s offense.