New Mexico (4-3) at Air Force (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 7:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Falcon Stadium (46,692) -- USAFA, Colorado. Television: ROOT (RM). Home Record: UNM 2-1, Air Force 2-1. Away Record: UNM 2-2, Air Force 1-2. Neutral Record: UNM 0-0, Air Force 0-0. Conference Record: UNM 1-1, Air Force 2-1. Series Record: Air Force leads, 19-10.
GAME NOTES: Seeking a third straight win for the first time since the 2007 season, the New Mexico Lobos take their best shot at the Air Force Falcons this weekend when the two Mountain West Conference squads clash in Colorado.
First-year head coach Bob Davie has his Lobos moving in the right direction for sure, the team having posted a 35-23 win versus Hawaii in Honolulu last weekend. The victory was the second in a row and the third in the last four outings for a program that had won just a single game in each of the previous three campaigns. The back-to-back triumphs are also the first since the Lobos defeated both New Mexico State and Wyoming in consecutive games back in 2008.
New Mexico, which also snapped an 18-game road losing streak in MWC play with the favorable decision versus the Warriors, last won three games in a row in October 2007 with triumphs over Wyoming, San Diego State and Air Force, en route to a postseason appearance against Nevada.
As for the Falcons, they had a tough time against their latest foe, Wyoming, but still managed to escape Laramie last weekend with a 28-27 win. The victory was the second in the last three games for the Academy, with an overtime loss versus Navy in between.
Air Force owns a 19-10 advantage in the all-time series, thanks in part to a 42-0 thumping of UNM last season.
Coach Davie has put great emphasis on running the ball in Albuquerque these days and last week the Lobos again used it to their advantage as the team rolled up 332 yards and five touchdowns in the win over Hawaii. Kasey Carrier accounted for 161 yards and two TDs on 35 attempts and Cole Gautsche chipped in with 104 yards and another score as well. Quarterback B.R. Holbrook continues to take a back seat for the team as he converted 7-of-12 passes for 109 yards versus the Warriors.
Now the seventh-best running team in the country with 280.3 ypg, the Lobos have run for at least 300 yards in four straight games and five times overall in 2012. The last time this program was able to achieve that same set of circumstances was back in 1972. Carrier has done most of the damage with 630 yards and eight touchdowns, but Gautsche has also been a formidable threat with his five touchdowns and an average of close to eight yards per carry.
Defensively, the Lobos have been suspect against opposing passing attacks through seven games, giving up close to 280 ypg which has the team ranked 10th in the conference and 105th in the nation. The squad has just five interceptions, two of which have been credited to Destry Berry who is also third on the team with 32 total tackles.
Much like the Lobos, Air Force is also a team that leans heavily on the run offensively, but that's nothing new for the Academy. Last week the team ran for a modest 230 yards and scored twice on 51 attempts in the slim win over Wyoming on the road. Connor Dietz delivered a team-best 92 yards on 14 attempts and also threw for 141 yards and two touchdowns as he completed just 7-of-9 passes.
While Dietz is capable of sneaking in a few passes here and there against unsuspecting defenses, the Falcons are still ranked ninth in the conference and 118th in the country in passing with just 116.8 ypg. The good news for Dietz is that, while he has completed 58.5 percent of his attempts for five touchdowns, he has yet to throw an interception and that in turn keeps the Falcons running attack moving along at a steady pace.
Now second in the nation in rushing with 154.7 ypg on the ground, Cody Getz was limited to just 41 net yards on 10 total carries against the Cowboys. Getz, who is averaging 7.6 yards per attempt, needs just 72 more yards to reach 1,000 for the season, thanks in large part to already having a trio of games in which he gained at least 200 yards.
While Air Force is the second-best running team in the country with 363.0 ypg, the team still has trouble slowing down opposing teams that attack in the same mode. Through six games the Falcons are giving up 190.8 ypg rushing, mostly because the squad is under-sized at the line of scrimmage. Because the Falcons tend to be on the smaller size in the trenches, they fail to get much of a push into the backfield and that has resulted in only 0.50 sacks per game and 3.83 tackles for loss per outing, the former being the weakest in the nation.
With passes being a luxury in this game, the team that controls the clock and is able to mount time-consuming drives will more than likely come out ahead. The Falcons have been operating in this fashion for a long time now, so until New Mexico catches up, expect to see the hosts on the winning side of this battle.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Air Force 35, New Mexico 24
10/17 10:45:00 ET