Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#183 Utah State vs.
#184 Air Force
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 7:30pm EDT
Written by Jordy

The Utah State Aggies take aim at the Air Force Falcons in a battle featuring two unbeatens in the Mountain West Conference. Air Force rolled over Navy in an emotional victory in last week’s September 11 anniversary. It marked another victory for a Falcons team that has a 58-17 edge over their past two opponents combined. Utah State handled their business at home against North Dakota after surviving a nail-biter opener against Washington State.

Can the Aggies get off the field?

The Aggies went head-to-head with the Falcons last year, and things got downright ugly. They got bulldozed on the ground, and their defense couldn’t get off the field. Air Force had nearly 10 minutes more in time of possession in that game.

But the Aggies seem like they’ve cleaned up a few things under the tutelage of a brand new head coach. Blake Anderson’s Aggies gutted out a victory over Washington State before blowing through North Dakota. If anything, they should come into the rematch with a bit more confidence than they had last season, when they were 1-4 ahead of this meeting.

Air Force checks all of the boxes defensively, but Utah State’s offense is clearly versatile enough to find their opportunities to strike. It’s going to take a balanced attack with Logan Bonner making some key throws downfield. They aren’t just going to line up and win in the trenches against the top-ranked rushing defense in the conference. To be fair, Air Force is ranked first against the pass as well.

But the Aggies have a terrific target sponge at receiver in Deven Thompkins. If they can get the ball moving on the ground with Calvin Tyler Jr., they’ll have chances to take some shots through the air. However, every drive will be crucial when facing a team that hogs the ball like the Falcons.

Keep it simple, Air Force

The Falcons should come into this game with the mentality of running Utah State’s defense into the ground. They have the overpowering offensive front to put the Aggies on their heels and keep them there. Things have looked stout along Utah State’s defensive line, but Air Force simply has too many bodies to throw at them on the ground.

The Falcons are averaging 273 rushing yards per game this season with a conference-high eight rushing touchdowns. Their objective in this game—as it is in every game—is to pound away at the opposing team’s defense, bleed precious minutes off the clock and get out of there with a win.

It worked like a charm against the Aggies last season.

They’re also getting pressure up front defensively. The team is averaging four sacks this season with both the top rushing and passing defense in the conference. It’s hard to envision Utah State doing much of anything to stop them, despite such an encouraging start to the year. Quarterback Haaziq Daniels is the nightmare that keeps opposing coaches up at night. It’ll be a long night for the Aggies if he’s consistently extending drives.

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I’m having a hard time thinking up ways the Aggies can steal this game.

Sure, they have the more balanced offensive attack, but Air Force’s defense is formidable on all levels. They have the hounds on the defensive front that can wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks with standout players like linebacker Demonte Meeks. Not only are they piling up sacks, but they are holding opponents to an average 39 yards per game on the ground.

That doesn’t bode well for the Aggies on the road against a team that handed them a 35-7 loss in Utah last season. Logan Bonner’s passing stats are mostly padded by the team’s lopsided win over North Dakota. He threw 390 of his 533 total passing yards in that matchup. The fact remains that he struggled to throw the ball against a more formidable Washington State defense, and the same will be the case on Saturday.

The Falcons will dominate this game in the trenches and play keep-away from the Aggies until the clock hits zero. I’m laying the points and taking Air Force.

Prediction: Air Force Falcons (-7.5)

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Air Force is seemingly picking right back up where they left off last year with a dominant defense that keeps opponents out of the end zone. They have only yielded two touchdowns so far this season, and they’re holding teams to an average 8.5 points per game. It has been absolute dominance from the start.

There will be no holes on the defensive front for the Aggies to exploit and get the rest of their offense going. It won’t help matters that Air Force’s linebackers are about to turn Utah State quarterback Logan Bonner into a pancake. He’ll be doing snow angels in the dirt before this one is over. Give me the under on Saturday.

Prediction: Under (54.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.