Armed Forces Bowl – Air Force Falcons (+7) versus California Golden Bears

Posted: January 4, 2016 in College football, Football
Tags: , , ,

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This is the ninth meeting between these schools with Cal winning six. The last meeting was in this very bowl, which Cal won 42-36 (-4) in 2007. Cal is bowling for the first time in four years. Head coach Sonny Dykes was 0-1 SU/1-0 ATS in his lone bowl while at Louisiana Tech. This is Air Force’s fifth appearance in this bowl and eighth overall in the last nine years. They’re 1-3 SU/ATS here and 2-1 SU/3-0 ATS in the other, all under head coach Troy Calhoun.

It was going to be tough for Air Force to match last year’s ten win total as they returned just 11 starters and had to break in a new quarterback. Starting quarterback Nate Romine was injured and out for the year (ACL) after two games and then lost three of their next four games. They then won five straight, including back-to-back outright upsets vs Utah State and at Boise. Having the Mountain Division wrapped up, the Falcons lost an opportunity to host the Mountain West Conference championship game when they lost at New Mexico despite being a double-digit favorite. Air Force then lost at San Diego State in the conference title game. They average 453 yards per game, including 322 (5.5) rushing yards per game and are No. 22 in the FBS as they average 72 yards per game more then their foes allow on average. The Falcons do have a below average pass defense, which doesn’t bode well against a quarterback that will likely be starting in the NFL next season. 

Cal was one play away from getting to a bowl last year and entered this year with 17 returning starters. After starting the season 5-0, the schedule turned brutal and they lost four straight against Utah, UCLA, USC, and Oregon. They beat Oregon State to become bowl eligible, but then lost to rival Stanford and then won their finale. Quarterback Jared Goff was named first team Pac-12 and threw for over 300 yards nine times, including twice over 400 with a season high 542 yards and five touchdowns in the finale. The Golden Bears average 524 yards per game and are No. 10 in the FBS averaging 117 yards per game more then their foes allow on average. Defense is a struggle as they are #103 in the FBS allowing 45 yards per game more then their foes average, with their rush defense a main cause. 

This should be a high scoring game as matchups featuring pass happy offenses and triple option offenses usually end that way. Goff should be able to add a few more highlights to his reel and could add another 400 yard passing effort. Air Force scored 35 points versus Utah State and 38 against Boise and both those teams have better defenses then Cal.

 

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