Week 3 MW - Air Force-Boise State & More

Posted Sep 13, 2013

Week 3 - MW Fearless Predictions, Air Force at Boise State & More, Part 1

- Air Force at Boise State & More, Part 1
- Central Michigan at UNLV & More, Part 2
Air Force (1-1) at Boise State (1-1) Sept. 13, 8:00, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Is Air Force in big trouble? The Falcons were awful in the 52-20 blowout home loss to Utah State, and now they have to deal with a rebounding Boise State team that got past the shellacking from Washington to destroy UT Martin. With three road games in the next four, this could be a dangerous first half of the season and a must-win situation to have any hope of hanging around in the Mountain West race. Boise State still needs to figure out what it can do on a consistent basis, and while hanging 63 on UT Martin was nice, it's all about the next few weeks. With a road game at Fresno State next week and with road games at Utah State and BYU coming up, the Broncos have to take advantage of the home date and have to show that the Washington game was an aberration. There's still time to make this season special, and roll through the next several games. This is just the second meeting between the two – Boise State won 37-26 in 2011.

Why Air Force Might Win: Can the running game work? It struggled against Utah State with just 162 yards, trying to get everyone involved with no success, but the talent and experience are there to come up with a bigger performance against a Boise State run defense that might be shakier than originally expected. Washington and Bishop Sankey ran wild on the Broncos, and that was when the passing game wasn't firing away at will. The Bronco front four wasn't a rock against UT Martin, either, allowing 152 yards. Basically, if Air Force is going to win, it has to be Air Force running the ball. It has to control the clock, control the game, and hope that Boise State is unfocused.

Why Boise State Might Win: Boise State won't be unfocused. The defense might not be up to its normal snuff, but Air Force hasn't been able to get the offense working, either. The running game might have motored against Colgate, but the passing attack has yet to come up with anything to throw a scare into the Bronco secondary, and again, the ground attack just hasn't been clicking like normal. The biggest problem so far is time of possession. Air Force has to grind out the clock to keep its defense off the field, and it isn't.

Who To Watch Out For: With Kale Pearson out with a torn ACL, the Falcons turned to Jaleel Awini to handle the offense – it didn't work out all that well. He's a 6-0, 190-pound quick runner who can cut on a dime and has a good enough passing arm to get by, but he only completed 4-of-12 passes for 61 yards against Utah State. He led the team with 48 rushing yards with a touchdown, but he didn't make the ground game explode. If he's not fantastic, this will be another blowout loss.

What Will Happen: This will be another blowout loss. Boise State's defense will come up with its best performance of the young season and won't give up a thing through the air. Meanwhile, the Bronco offense will be balanced and effective with Joe Southwick throwing for 300 yards and picking apart the beleaguered Falcon secondary.
Prediction: Boise State 48 … Air Force 17
Line: Boise State -23.5 o/u: 56
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 2

New Mexico (1-1) at Pittsburgh (0-1) Sept. 14, 12:30, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Bob Davie leads New Mexico into Western Pennsylvania, a familiar region for the former Notre Dame head coach. Davie's Lobos are coming off an emotional win, beating UTEP in overtime to snap a 15-game losing streak within the Lone Star State. While New Mexico lacks the talent to compete with the best of the Mountain West, Davie has the team playing with a lot of fight and confidence. Pitt has had an extra week to prepare and to get over its Labor Day loss to Florida State. Now that the Panthers have tangible proof that they won't be winning the ACC in 2013, they're hoping to lay the building blocks of a postseason run.
Why New Mexico Might Win: The Lobos are going to run the ball with Kasey Carrier, who just might be the best player in the building on Saturday afternoon. The underrated senior erupted for 291 yards and four scores on 41 carries in the UTEP win, hoisting the Lobos on his back. He operates behind a physical, veteran line led by Lamar Bratton, Dillon Farrell and Darryl Johnson.
Why Pittsburgh Might Win: Now that the Panthers have squared off with the Florida State D, it'll be in a much better position to solve a far more manageable New Mexico defense. The Lobos have had problems with the run, which should entice Pitt to feed Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett liberally. A successful ground game will create good looks for QB Tom Savage to find WR Devin Street on play-action.
Who To Watch Out For: The Lobos beat the Miners last week with a backup quarterback, Clayton Mitchem. Mitchem might get the call again, as starter Cole Gautsche deals with the lingering effects of a concussion.

- The Pitt defensive tackles, Aaron Donald and Tyrone Ezell, versus that unheralded Lobo O-line is an interesting matchup that'll go a long way to determining the final score. Donald, in particular, has a knack for changing a game's tempo.

- There's absolutely no reason why the Panthers won't press up their linebackers and safeties to stop a New Mexico offense that lacks balance and is heavily reliant on a single player.
What Will Happen: Can New Mexico beat an ACC opponent on the road, with the primary support of just one player? Doubtful. Carrier will get his yards, but he'll also absorb a lot of contact near the line of scrimmage. The Pitt offense, meanwhile, will showcase the run-pass combo needed to earn the program's first victory of 2013.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 37 … New Mexico 14
Line: Pittsburgh -21 o/u: 52
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 2

Fresno State (2-0) at Colorado (2-0) Sept. 14, 2:00, Pac-12 Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: With both teams unbeaten, Fresno State travelling East to Boulder suddenly just got rather interesting. The Bulldogs are carrying the BCS-buster banner these days, courtesy of their wins over Rutgers and Cal Poly. They're just on the perimeter of the Top 25, and a road win over a Pac-12 opponent, any Pac-12 opponent, can only serve to polish up the resume. While it's certainly too early to celebrate, how ‘bout them Buffs? Colorado has already surpassed last year's win total for first-year head coach Mike MacIntyre, defeating rival Colorado State and Central Arkansas. It was trampled, 69-14, in last September's meeting with Fresno State.
Why Fresno State Might Win: An iffy Colorado D has yet to face an attack as potent as the one visiting Folsom Field this weekend. The Buffs ought to be particularly concerned about how their leaky secondary matches up with QB Derek Carr and his cadre of receivers. Colorado got off easy in its first two games, but wideouts Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper will stretch the defense in all different directions.
Why Colorado Might Win: For a change, the Buffs feel as if they can match opposing offenses now that WR Paul Richardson is at full strength. The game-breaker has already turned 21 receptions into 417 yards and four touchdowns. He's also helping turn erratic Connor Wood into a more consistent quarterback. Colorado's defensive strength so far, third-down stops, matches well with a Fresno State team having major problems converting on offense.
Who To Watch Out For: If Fresno State is going to reach its goals in 2013, it has to start running the ball more consistently. The Bulldogs don't have a 100-yard, and they're averaging less than four yards a carry.

- Wood figures to go right after a Fresno State secondary that was torched for five touchdown passes by Rutgers in the opener. When Richardson draws double-teams, WR Nelson Spruce better be ready for his number to be called.

- Note to veteran Buff P Darragh O'Neill: Punt the ball away from No. 1. Fresno's Burse scored three times last week, two on special teams.

- LB Addison Gillam has been a difference-maker for the Colorado defense so far. The rookie from California has anchored the middle with a team-high 20 stops.

What Will Happen: Drilling down on that 2-0 Fresno State start reveals a team with some glaring holes on both sides of the ball. The D has struggled in pass defense, while the offense has had efficiency problems. Plus, Colorado is not the pushover it was just a year ago. The Buffs are ready to compete this Saturday. The duel between the passing games will be an interesting one, with both sides landing blows. The Bulldogs will escape on the strength of a better defensive front seven and a deeper corps of receivers, but it'll be a lot closer than anticipated, and certainly a lot more competitive than a year ago.
Prediction: Fresno State 34 … Colorado 27
Line: Fresno State -9.5 o/u: 68
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 2.5

Cal Poly (1-1) at Colorado State (0-2) Sept. 14, 3:30

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Colorado State really, really needs something positive to happen. It played relatively well against Tulsa, but lost in a tough 30-27 fight after getting bombed on by Colorado in the season opener. With Alabama coming up next, a gag against Cal Poly would mean a truly disastrous start to what really does have the potential to be a promising season. Cal Poly is a decent Big Sky team that battled well with Fresno State last week – at least in the second half to make the final score cosmetically fine - after beating San Diego to kick things off. The ground game has been great, and there's just enough pop to potentially pull off a big upset.

Why Cal Poly Might Win: The running game works. The Mustangs got down so fast against the mighty Fresno State offense that they couldn't really dive into the ground attack, but they still ended up with 172 yards on the ground a week after ripping up San Diego. Colorado State had bigger problems with WR Paul Richardson than the Colorado running game, but it couldn't handle Tulsa's offensive balance and was torched by Trey Watts, who ran 22 times for 152 yards. Kristaan Ivory leads Cal Poly with 282 yards on the ground, running for 185 yards and three scores against San Diego and running for 97 against Fresno State. He should have a huge day.

Why Colorado State Might Win: Colorado State might be a different team if it can keep the mistakes to a minimum. The passing game wasn't good against Tulsa, and the running game spotty for an offense that only managed nine first downs, but the Rams hung around and had a 27-17 lead in the fourth quarter. The problem? Three turnovers, nine penalties, and a disaster of a time completing passes on third down. Cut out the errors and the results should finally start to come.

Who To Watch Out For: Colorado State defensive back Kevin Pierre-Louis is having a big start to the season, and that's not a plus. The 6-1, 212-pound sophomore is a promising all-around defender who showed flashes of excellence in his first year, and he was all over the field against Colorado making 15 tackles, and he followed it up with five tackles against Tulsa. He's turning into a top-shelf safety, but it would be nice if the front seven did more of the heavy lifting.

What Will Happen: Cal Poly will give the Rams a run. Mistakes and misfires in the passing game will make it rough for the Colorado State offense, but Chris Nwoke and the running attack will do just enough to hold on in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Colorado State 27 … Cal Poly 21
Line: Colorado State -10
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 1.5

- Air Force at Boise State & More, Part 1
- Central Michigan at UNLV & More, Part 2