2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 13, Mountain West
Mountain West Fearless Predictions &
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Air Force (6-5) at Colorado State (3-7) Nov. 26, 6:00, mtn.
Here’s The Deal … Air Force might be having a disappointing season, but it turned things around over the last month winning three of its last four games to become bowl eligible. Now it needs another win to try to secure a stronger post-season game and end the year on a high note. The defense has been spotty and the offense inconsistent, but there have been enough wins over bad teams to come up with a winning season.
Colorado State has been a disaster losing its last six games and seven of its last eight. With home games against Air Force and Wyoming to close, there’s time to finish up with a respectable 5-7 season, but it would require something special. The defense has been okay, but the offense hasn’t been able to produce enough to keep up the pace with the better Mountain West teams. The lines have been lousy and everything else has suffered from there. The losses have mostly been close, and the team has been competitive, but there hasn’t been any luck in key moments.
Why Air Force Might Win: The Colorado State run defense is among the worst in the nation. UNLV can’t run on anyone and it tore off 244 yards and two scores, and Boise State and UTEP combined for 720 and eight scores in back-to-back weeks. Even with all the plays in the backfield from an aggressive defensive front, the defense hasn’t been able to handle anyone with the ability to work inside and out, and it hasn’t been close to stopping teams that can run the option. The Rams beat Utah State, but not before the Aggie spread came up with 279 yards and five scores. Worse yet, the CSU defense doesn’t force big mistakes with just one fumble recovery in the last three games. Air Force is averaging 318 yards per game and should hit the 400 yard mark if everything is working.
Why Colorado State Might Win: It’s not like the Air Force run defense is stopping anyone. The defensive front is second-to-last in the nation in tackles for loss and 107th in sacks. The defensive front has allowed 200 rushing yards or more in each of the last three games and two scores in each. No, Colorado State doesn’t force a slew of mistakes, but the Falcons are giving up the ball a bit too much with 12 turnovers in the last five games. The Ram offense has worked on the ground lately with 250 yards and two touchdowns against UNLV and 235 and two scores against San Diego State. There’s a chance the CSU ground game can hit the 200-yard mark, but it needs help from the passing game even though …
What To Watch Out For: QB Pete Thomas has a knee injury. He missed last week’s game against TCU and Garrett Grayson completing 14-of-24 passes for 248 yards and a score with a pick, while running for 53 yards. He’s not the passer Thomas is, but he’s far more mobile and could give the struggling Falcon defensive front problems. He’ll takeoff from time to time combining with Chris Nwoke and Raymond Carter for a three-man rushing attack.
Air Force QB Tim Jefferson has never run well against the Rams, but he’s 3-0 against them. He’s coming off his best rushing performance of the year with 81 yards and a score against UNLV, while throwing for 128 yards and a touchdown, and while the offense is struggling against the better defense, he’s in command of the ground game. He’ll be under more pressure than usual, but he’s savvy enough to handle it.
What Will Happen: The two offenses will combine for 500 rushing yards, but Air Force will have most of them. Grayson will come up with a nice day, but the Falcon ground game will control the clock on the way to a blowout win.
CFN Prediction: Air Force 38 .. Colorado State 17
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Air Force -7.5 O/U: 52
Nov. 26 at Boise State 36 … Wyoming 14
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) BOISE, Idaho -- Kellen Moore tossed three touchdown passes, including a 46-yarder on the final play of the first half, to lead No. 7 Boise State to a 36-14 victory over Wyoming Saturday.
After getting off to a sluggish start, Moore and the Broncos (10-1, 5-1) rattled off 36 straight points to put the game away and secure a second-place finish in their first year as a member of the Mountain West Conference.
Moore was 24-of-36 for 279 yards and he threw touchdowns of 17 and 10 yards in the second half.
But it was his last-ditch touchdown toss on the final play of the first half that gave his team the spark it needed. After being flushed from the pocket, Moore rolled left then heaved a pass that was deflected by a Wyoming defender near the goal line and dropped into the hands of Matt Miller to give the Broncos a 13-7 lead.
Wyoming (7-4, 4-2) scored first when linebacker Luke Anderson picked off Moore's pass early in the first quarter and ran 29 yards for a touchdown. The Cowboys were held to 191 total yards and 78 yards passing.
Wyoming (7-3) at Boise State (9-1) Nov. 26, 2:00, mtn.
Here’s The Deal … Boise State is still in the hunt for a BCS bid, but it’s going to take a major miracle – Houston losing and TCU losing to UNLV – for the Broncos to get the automatic invite, but for now, just getting by a red hot Wyoming team and going 10-1 before the layup against New Mexico has to be enough. It might be yet another year when a painful late loss means a minor bowl, but the program keeps pressing on as it tries to figure out its next move. After walloping San Diego State, and by winning out, the Broncos could have the distinction of being the highest ranked team to not go to a BCS game.
It’s gravy time for Wyoming. Nothing was supposed to happen for the young team trying to rebuild, but instead it has a shot to finish second in the Mountain West with a win over Boise State this week and Colorado State to close, and while it might be a pipedream, a TCU loss could mean a shot at tying for the conference title. Just coming up with a decent performance in Boise might be enough; UW is 0-5 against the Broncos with four of the losses by double digits.
Why Wyoming Might Win: The offensive line, combined with the mobility of QB Brett Smith, could be enough to keep control of the ball and keep the Boise State offense off the field. Smith was unstoppable last week against New Mexico, running for 140 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 212 yards as the offense converted on 11-of-17 third down chances. The UW line is doing a great job of getting Smith time to work and space to run, and this year, Boise State’s defense isn’t nearly the killer at getting into the backfield it was in years’ past. The Boise State secondary can be beaten, and while UW doesn’t have elite receives, Smith has been making everyone around him better. He’s not making mistakes, and on the road, the Cowboy offense that hasn’t lost an interception in the last five games isn’t going to beat itself.
Why Boise State Might Win: Wyoming’s defense has been destroyed by any offense that’s even mildly effective. Nebraska, TCU, and Air Force all ran for over 300 yards, and San Diego State came close with 292 yards and two scores. The secondary’s stats are good, but playing New Mexico, Air Force, and UNLV helps the cause. The teams that can throw have been able to against UW. It’s not getting much national attention, but the Bronco passing game is rocking with Kellen Moore throwing for close to over 900 yards and 11 touchdowns with one pick in the last three games. He’s not going to sputter in his second-to-last home game.
What To Watch Out For: Nothing against D.J. Harper, but if Doug Martin was healthy, Boise State probably beats TCU. Last week against San Diego State he came up with a career-high 36 carries for 129 yards and three scores. He ripped off 105 yards and a score in last year’s win over the Cowboys, and he should be the workhorse again this year.
All of a sudden, Wyoming’s Alvester Alexander has stepped up his play with 83 yards against Air Force and 93 against New Mexico. Last year he had the same sort of late year explosion when he tore off close to 500 yards and nine scores in the final four games. The more pressure he can take off of Smith, the better. The offense needs as many weapons as it can find to keep up the pace, and Alexander needs to come up with a big game. Last year he ran for nine yards on seven carries against the Broncos.
What Will Happen: Wyoming has won four of its last five games and is playing well enough to finish in the Mountain West’s top three, but it’s about to run into a buzzsaw. The Cowboy run defense will get ripped up for well over 300 yards and Moore will be Moore.
CFN Prediction: Boise State 48 … Wyoming 20
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Boise State -32.5 O/U: 61
San Diego State (6-4) at UNLV (2-8) Sat Nov 26, 10:00pm ET, The mtn.
Here’s The Deal… UNLV isn’t going bowling, but two years into Bobby Hauck’s carrier progress needs to be shown. And hey, it is. The powerful ball control style of offense that was typical of his Montana program is starting to emerge. The timing could not be better for UNLV, it gets to put it’s emerging strength against SDSU’s big 2011 weakness, the nations 43rd rushing offense, and rising, against the nations 99th run defense, even with Dionza Bradford sidelined.
Meanwhile SDSU is nursing bruised egos on top of bruised bodies. Ronnie Hillman was limited against Boise last week, in large part due to the three early turnovers forcing SDSU into a pass offense, but possibly also as a result of lingering ankle pain. SDSU needs to finish strong in 2011 to set up a 2012 transition year that will involve a new QB. The 2011 SDSU defense has never quite resembled what it is supposed to be on the drawing board. The team isn’t satisfied and needs to force a point.
Why UNLV might win: The rush. UNLV has been averaging over two hundred yards rushing while its quarterbacks have been nursing injury. If it can get a modest pass threat to force open SDSU’s rush defense this game can turn into the kind that UNLV is made to have a chance to win. SDSU is missing two starting linebackers, a defensive end, and hybrid safety Khalid Stevens to injury; therefore the UNLV rush has no reason not to work.
Quarterback play is another story. Caleb Herring is going to be limited by the lingering effects after a concussion, but even if he gets held out, the drop off isn’t big. That’s not complimentary. UNLV is 113th in pass efficiency with or without him in spite of the best efforts of two excellent wide outs Phillip Payne and Michael Johnson.
Why San Diego State might win: All in all, SDSU is the better team, but proving that with on the field evidence has been a bit elusive. The defense is young and the pass offense hasn’t really ever gelled. San Diego State has for the most part beat the teams it was supposed to beat, and lost to the ones it was supposed to lose to, but there is nothing wrong with holding them to a higher standard even in a rebuilding year.
UNLV is only 115th in total offense while SDSU has the 64th total defense and SDSU will put the nations 39th total offense against the 107th total defense. The gap is significant. That Hillman was limited against BSU appears to have been an effect of the fast turnovers leading to a quick three score gap, not the ankle injury to Hillman even though he does have some pain. Hillman and SDSU run the 33rd in the nation rush attack will find success against UNLV’s 96th run defense. In pass situations SDSU has the better quarterback hands down.
What To Watch Out For: Sneaking out pass plays. The offenses will both be run first to set up the big pass, connecting the pass will make all the difference in the game. Herring should be expected to play, and UNLV is ultimately better of if he does, but in spite of the separation Payne and Johnson can get the UNLV pass threat just isn’t threatening. The opposite situation is going on with SDSU, good QB, and inexperienced receivers that have trouble getting that separation. The net result is that SDSU is 71st in pass efficiency while UNLV is 113th. It’s a safe bet that there will be some TD passes from 30 yards or more out that help decide this game, but guessing who connects with who will make a good side show.
What Will Happen: If you ignore the first quarter, SDSU played the next three against Boise State neck and neck. SDSU really can play at a high level; it just can’t seem to sustain it. UNLV can sometimes play competently, but not consistently. The thing that gets really interesting is the UNLV rush has improved in leaps and bounds over the year and SDSU’s run defense is statistically it’s vulnerability, but with no real pass threat SDSU isn’t going to let UNLV have another 200 yards rushing night. The trenches will be contested for the first half before SDSU takes over in the third and never looks back.
CFN Prediction: San Diego State 34 … UNLV 17
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Diego State -15 O/U: 54.5
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