The Air Force Falcons play host to the UNLV Rebels on Friday afternoon from Falcon Stadium in a Mountain West showdown. Both teams enter with different aspirations for how the season should play out and that difference should be evident on Friday. The Rebels enter the season with only two wins but have both of those wins in the last three weeks. For Air Force, a third-straight win would clinch them at least a share of the divisional title, an accomplishment that would only be greater to have happened at home. The Falcons have won three in a row in the series between the two teams, though they haven't met since 2018. Obviously, both teams look quite a bit different this go around and that will be evident by how Friday's game could play out.
Rebels Looking For Momentum Into Off SeasonIt has been another brutal season for the UNLV Rebels this go-around but a season-ending win against Air Force could do wonders to their off-season momentum and confidence. Momentum has already been building of late though, with the Rebels having won two of their last three games. Wins against Hawaii and New Mexico helped them to find the win column and then a close loss t San Diego State last week only exemplified the approach that they've been taking lately. Their offense remains one of the worst in the country and while the defense is only marginally more productive, the Rebels do look like they are slowly stirring the right way.
One concern though is the continued injuries plaguing the team. They enter this week with five players on the injury report, all on the offensive side of the ball. Doug Brumfield (knee) looked like he could challenge as the starter in the first month but remains out. The other four injuries remain mainly depth issues but as the season draws to a close, lack of depth is from ideal.
As mentioned earlier, UNLV's offense is one of the worst in the country, and they'll need to find some semblance of balance to find success. They are only averaging 21 points per game and are ranked 116th nationally in total yards per game.
Cameron Friel appears to be the starter heading into the week but has struggled to take care of the ball. He has eleven interceptions compared to only six touchdowns and will need to be sharper to take down Air Force. The ground game has actually been exceptional in Charles Williams, who will be relied on to help counter Air Force's own ground game and attack at controlling the clock.
Expect UNLV to show a little bit more bite this year than in previous go-arounds. They still are allowing a hair over 400 yards per game but their pass defense and Air Force's reliance on the run should at least save them some trouble there. Jacoby Windman is sure to have his name called throughout the night, as he's sitting on 102 tackles already on this season. Add in six sacks and a pass break up, and Windmon will be looking for some help from his teammates on Friday.
Falcons Eyeing MWC TitleAir Force has had one of their best seasons in recent memory and even though they've had a knack for close games, their ability to find wins is all that matters. They lost two in a row just a month ago but have bounced back nicely with back-to-back wins against Nevada and Colorado State. They remain in first place in their Mountain West division and even though the Rebels are struggling this season, the Falcons won't overlook their upcoming opponent.
The Falcons have two injuries that they're monitoring coming into the weekend, both on the offensive side of the ball. Micah Davis (undisclosed) is questionable but could be a miss as the team's second-leading receiver in a thinned-out group on the outside. Kyle Patterson (knee) has already been ruled out.
Air Force's offense might be far from the most balanced in the country but remains one of the better ones, at least in the Mountain West. They're averaging just shy of 30 points per game on the backs of an offense that averages over 400 yards per game. They rank first in rushing yards per game and rushing attempts per game but are last in most passing categories.
Brad Roberts leads the team in rushing, averaging 107 yards per game on the ground, with three others averaging 45 yards or more. Even though the passing attack is weaker than most, that appears to be more by choice than inaction. Quarterback Haaziq Daniels averages nearly 85 yards per game through the air and has the ability to make UNLV pay if they focus too much on the run.
Air Force's defense is one of the best in the country and if nothing else, should give UNLV quite a bit of trouble. They rank 18th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just a hair under 20 points per game. Their ability to get after the quarterback (26th nationally) will be a key on Friday night and UNLV should have plenty of trouble moving the ball when they have it.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Falcons enter Friday's game with quite a bit to play for in terms of the Mountain West title and a respectable bowl berth. UNLV has the pride to play for but given their struggles this season, that likely won't be enough to even keep it close against the Falcons. The key matchup is that UNLV has one of the worst offenses in the country, while Air Force has one of the best defenses in the country, ranking 22nd in pass defense and sixth in run defense and total yardage defense. Beyond that, the Falcons have the nation's top rushing offense and should have no trouble controlling the clock and moving the ball. By wearing away at UNLV's defensive front, they have the ability to make this game an easy win to close out the regular season. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Air Force, they are 4-0 ATS against a team with a losing record and are 4-0 ATS in their last four games after scoring more than 40 points in the previous game. Additionally, in the last 12 meetings between the two teams, the home team is 9-3 ATS, which would apply to the Falcons on Friday's game.
Full-Game Total Pick
This matchup between Mountain West foes is built to be a perfect low-scoring game. The two teams combined for only 50 points per game and UNLV to start things off, has one of the worst offenses in the country, coupled with Air Force having one of the best defenses. Beyond that, the Falcons lead the country in rushing offense, and their ability to move the ball, control the clock, and keep UNLV off the field, will all contribute to a low-scoring effort behind Air Force's big win. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Air Force, the under is 4-0 in their last four games as a home favorite, is 4-0 in their last four home games, and is 11-1 in their last 12 home games against a team with a losing road record.