2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 7 - SDSU at Air Force
Mountain West Fearless Predictions &
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Oct. 13 San Diego State 41 … at Air Force 27
CFN Analysis: San Diego State kept its head when Air Force was trying to come up with slew of tricks and pulled away in the second half taking advantage of turnovers and the running of Ronnie Hillman to get the win. Now the Aztecs are in a great position to own the No. 3 spot in the Mountain West, which isn’t a bad place to be behind Boise State and TCU. It was a balanced, sound effort without a slew of mistakes and with a nice, effective day from Ryan Lindley, throwing for 209 yards and two scores, along with 172 yards and two scores from Hillman. Now it’s time to go on a nice run with Wyoming, New Mexico, and Colorado State up next, and if the passing game can find a bit more pop and the run defense can tighten up a bit – even though the linebackers did a decent job against the Falcons – the Boise State home game in late November won’t be a given.
Air Force just isn’t getting the play out of its defense that it needs, and it’s not doing enough of what it has to do offensively to beat the better teams. The Falcons have to own the time of possession and the turnover margin, and while it hung on to the ball for over 33 minutes, the three turnovers turned out to be a killer. There was a big special teams breakdown and big-time misses by the defensive front on the two big Ronnie Hillman runs to put the game away. Tim Jefferson wasn’t bad throwing the ball, completing 22-of-36 passes for 224 yards and two scores and two picks, but if he’s throwing 36 times, the Air Force offense isn’t working.
(AP) AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Ronnie Hillman scored on 22- and 57-yard runs in the fourth quarter and San Diego State survived a series of trick plays figuring in two Air Force scores to pull away for a 41-27 victory Thursday night.
Hillman shook off a late fumble to finish with 172 yards on 27 carries, the sophomore running back's 11th 100-yard performance in 18 career games. They include a 191-yard effort last year in a 27-25 victory over Air Force in San Diego.
Ryan Lindley threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns, including a go-ahead 28-yard score to Colin Lockett late in the third quarter to help San Diego State (4-2, 1-1 Mountain West) bounce back from successive losses. The Aztecs are off to their best start since 1977, when they began the season 5-1.
Tim Jefferson had touchdown passes of 18 and 26 yards to Jonathan Warzeka among his 22 completions in 36 attempts for 224 yards for Air Force (3-3, 0-2).
Air Force kept it close for much of the game. Mikel Hunter helped to break a tie with his second big run on a reverse, gaining 33 yards to the San Diego State 17.
The Falcons advanced to the 14 before Parker Herrington, who earlier kicked a 44-yard field goal, came on to add a 31-yarder for a 20-17 lead midway through the third quarter.
But San Diego State scored 10 points in a 14-second span following two Air Force turnovers.
Rene Siluano's interception of Jefferson's pass set up Abelardo Perez's second field goal, a 25-yarder that evened the score at 20 with 2:30 left in the third quarter. Then, on the first play of Air Force's next series, Mike DeWitt fumbled after a hit by Jerome Long, and Logan Ketchum covered the loose ball for San Diego State at Air Force's 28. From there, Lindley found Lockett open in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
Hillman added to San Diego State's lead with a 22-yard touchdown run, breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and then dragging a defender the final 3 yards into the end zone.
He broke loose for his second score moments later.
Herrington kicked his first field goal, and Air Force pulled into a 17-17 tie in the finishing touch to a pulsating second quarter in which the teams combined for 24 points.
San Diego State went in front 10-7 on Lindley's 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alston Umuolo with 14:11 left in the second quarter.
Air Force answered with a scoring drive that featured two trick plays. On a third-and-9 play, Hunter broke free on a reverse for a 29-yard gain to the 11. Air Force managed to get to the 4, where they Falcons lined up for an apparent field goal try on fourth down. But Herrington lined up as the holder and punter David Baska, normally the holder, took his place as kicker. Herrington got the long snap and took off around the right side, pitching the ball back to the trailing Baska, who dove over a San Diego State defender and shoved the ball one-handed over the goal line for the touchdown.
The Aztecs wasted no time responding. Brandon Davis returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and a 17-14 San Diego State lead. Davis bolted up the middle, stepped out of a tackle at about the 25 and quickly veered into the clear down the right sideline, going the rest of the way untouched.
San Diego State reached the Air Force 9 on its opening possession before the drive stalled and Perez kicked a 27-yard field goal for the game's first score.
Jefferson hit a wide-open Warzeka in stride for a 27-yard touchdown pass to give Air Force a 7-3 lead midway through the first period.
San Diego State (3-2) at Air Force (3-2) Oct. 13, 8:00, mtn.
Here’s The Deal … In a conference with Boise State and TCU, there’s no margin for error in the rest of the games. Both San Diego State and Air Force have already lost to TCU and each still has to deal with Boise State, but first, the two have to battle it out for the likely No. 3 spot in the final conference pecking order. After the problem both teams had last week, each could use something positive.
San Diego State got nothing going against the Horned Frogs in the first half of a 27-14 loss, and the attack couldn’t get the ground game going and couldn’t do enough to come back after getting down 20-0. With two weeks to prepare after getting stomped on by Michigan, that wasn’t the performance the Aztecs were looking to come up with as it tried to make a statement. With Wyoming and New Mexico up next, a win should mean a nice run in Mountain West play before going to Colorado State and dealing with Boise State.
Air Force survived a comeback by Navy in a thrilling and controversial overtime game, and just when it seemed like it was ready to go on bit of a roll, it’s defense was nowhere to be found in a 59-33 blowout at Notre Dame. This is the home oasis in between four road games, going away for Navy and Notre Dame and going away for Boise State and New Mexico up next. The finishing kick is nice and easy, so if the Falcons can somehow come up with a win this week, this should turn out to be a solid season no matter what happens against the Broncos.
Air Force won three of the last four games in the series, but it lost a 27-25 thriller to the Aztecs last year.
Why San Diego State Might Win: The Aztecs are making amends for their mistakes. Air force is having a problem holding on to the ball with seven fumbles and three interceptions in the first five games. The defense isn’t picking up the slack with enough takeaways to make up for the problems. San Diego State had problems last week against TCU with four turnovers, including three picks thrown by Ryan Lindley, and the offense has given the ball away nine times so far, but the defense is a defense that’s fantastic at coming up with takeaways with ten fumble recoveries and six picks. The Aztecs have come up with at least two fumbles in each of the last four games, and they’ll get their chances against the Air Force attack that’ll almost certainly put the ball on the ground a few times. The Falcons have to win the turnover margin, and they almost certainly won’t.
Why Air Force Might Win: Yeah, the San Diego State defense is coming up with a slew of takeaways, but it’s also getting gouged on the ground. Michigan had no problem getting Denard Robinson and the boys moving for 320 rushing yards and four scores, while TCU’s Ed Wesley ran wild last week helping the Horned Frog attack run for 234 yards. Army and its option offense had no problems, cranking out 403 yards and three scores.
Mobile quarterbacks are giving the Aztecs problems, and the Air Force offense, as expected, it terrific at cranking out yards in chunks. Even against Notre Dame’s strong defensive front, the Falcons came up with 363 yards and two touchdowns and 565 yards of total offense in the loss. Tim Jefferson and the Air Force backfield should run amok.
What To Watch Out For: Air Force senior Asher Clark has been in the system long enough to know how to be in the right spot at the right time, and Tim Jefferson knows how to get him the ball. The speedy Clark is a big-time home run hitter, averaging over nine yards per carry with 102 yards against Notre Dame last week and running for 91 yards and two scores on just eight carries against Navy. He was the workhorse, for him, last year running 19 times against the Aztecs for 116 yards and a score, and he’ll be fed the ball on a regular basis on the outside to get him in space against the SDSU linebackers.
Air Force throws just enough to get by, and when it does, Jefferson has to watch out for Larry Parker, one of the hottest defensive backs in America. Considered nothing more than a backup corner and a punt returner coming into the season, he’s been a major playmaker over the last three weeks with four interceptions to go along with three forced fumbles. He’s speedy enough to always be around the ball, and he’s always making something happen when he gets there.
What Will Happen: San Diego State has the offense and the ability to roll against a suddenly struggling Air Force defense, but the Aztec D isn’t stopping the run lately. Air Force should be able to control the clock and the game on the ground, and while the secondary will have problems with Ryan Lindley and the Aztec passing attack, Jefferson will come through for the Falcons in the clutch for the win.
CFN Prediction: Air Force 27 … San Diego State 24
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Air Force -6 O/U: 58
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