at Air Force 37 ... South Dakota 20
Posted Sep 3, 2011

Week 1 CFN Fearless Prediction - South Dakota at Air Force

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 1 - South Dakota at Air Force

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Sept. 3 at Air Force 37 … South Dakota 20
CFN Analysis: The Falcons came out roaring with 30 first half points and with the running game working to near perfection. South Dakota didn't have a prayer as Tim Jefferson did just about everything right and Mikel Hunter took a reverse for a score and a pass 55 yards for a touchdown in the blowout. The final score is much closer than the game; the Falcons took their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter and still finished with 391 rushing yards. Jefferson only completed 4-of-9 passes, but the ran for two scores and spread the ball around well to the other runners.

(AP) AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Mikel Hunter scored on an 80-yard reverse on the game's first snap and added a 55-yard TD reception Saturday to help Air Force cruise past South Dakota 37-20.

The Falcons (1-0) were intent on not letting the Coyotes (0-1), of the Great West Conference, stick around long enough to imagine another upset of a top-tier school like last year, when South Dakota upset Minnesota 41-38 in Minneapolis.

Hunter put the Falcons on top just 16 seconds into the game when he took the handoff from fellow wide receiver Jonathan Warzeka, raced around the left side and then scooted down the Air Force sideline to the end zone.

The Falcons rushed for 391 yards and four TDs in improving to 16-0 against schools from the Championship Subdivision.

South Dakota (0-0) vs. Air Force (0-0) Sept. 1, 2:00 mtn.
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Here's The Deal … Teams with good potential can come out rusty, perform like they deserve to lose, and then do. This almost certainly won't be one of those games. There are too many starters returning on both teams to expect the kind of game that looks reminiscent of a sleepy bear emerging from hibernation. These two are expected to be competitive in their respective conferences, and they will both be looking to execute as crisp and and error free game as possible before diving into the meat of their schedules right away. For Air Force, a first Mountain West championship isn't out of the picture even in an improved league with Boise State added to the mix. South Dakota will be part of a wide open Great West Conference. The Coyotes might be in the middle of the preseason pack, but they have the talent and the potential come up with a huge season. Playing well against the Falcons would go a long way.

Why South Dakota Might Win: South Dakota stunk last year, finishing 4-7, but it returns 19 starters and 53 lettermen. Nine starters are back on offense including senior QB Dante Warren, and every single returner is back on defense except linebacker Cory Kuehl. This is the group that pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the FCS last season, a 41-38 shocker over Minnesota, and it's not going to be fazed by playing an FBS team. The experience should help against the Falcon running game, but ...

Why Air Force Might Win: ... the Coyotes weren't even close against option teams. Cal Poly's triple option attack ripped off 379 rushing yards and five scores, and North Dakota State came up with 354 yards and six touchdowns. Air Force will run the option, but under Calhoun, gradually over the course of the last several seasons that offense has grown out of it's more predictable wishbone formations and expanded to have spread option. The Falcons will miss full-back Jared Tew, but nearly everyone else of note comes back including QB Tim Jefferson and speedy pitch back Asher Clark. The expanded offense, and the vastly improved, far more aggressive defense that Calhoun has implemented should have few problems getting into the backfield.

What To Watch Out For: South Dakota offensive tackle Tom Compton is a 6-6, 311-pound senior who was selected as a FCS Preseason First Team All-America selection, and he'll be blocking for QB Dante Warren, one of the 19 starters back for the Coyotes. He'll also be surrounded by a veteran supporting crew of tough blockers, but they'll have to deal with a veteran Air Force defense that changes and morphs as needed. Expect Air Force defensive ends Zach Payne, Harry Kehs, and Ben Kopacka to interfere with the South Dakota offense on a regular basis

What Will Happen: How do FCS teams beat FBS ones? With superior execution. When the FCS team has a veteran team that knows how to run their playbook & the FBS team is searching for themselves then an FCS upset becomes a real possibility. South Dakota has its end lined up, but  no one will outexectue Air Force. South Dakota will hang around for the first half and make the effort of finding the game on the Mtn network worth while, but Air Force will make it a laugher in the second half

CFN Prediction: Air Force 41 ... South Dakota 13
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