The Air Force Falcons (2-1) will host the Nevada Wolfpack (2-2) Friday on FS1 in a Mountain West Conference showdown. Last season Air Force beat Nevada 41-39 as a 1.5-point favorite.
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A chance to get above .500After going 8-5 last season, Nevada's roster is an extreme transition as their previous head coach Jay Norvell left for Colorado State. This year's team welcomed back just two starters on offense and four on defense. In the Moutain West preseason media poll, the Wolfpack was pegged fourth in the West Division and eighth out of 12 teams in the conference overall. Nevada opened the season with two wins beating New Mexico State 23-12 and Texas State 38-14. They failed to reach 3-0 by losing their third game to an FCS opponent Incarnate Word 55-41, and last week lost to Iowa 27-0 as a 24-point road dog.
Nevada is averaging 25.5 ppg, but 119th is averaging 290 total yards per game. They are averaging 151.5 passing yards per game (116th) and 138.5 rushing yards (89th). Nevada has played two quarterbacks this season. Nate Cox has completed 55.7% of his passes or 372 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Cox physically couldn't throw the ball against Iowa last week and did the majority of his damage in the Incarnate Word game, where he threw for both his touchdowns and 302 yards. Shane Illingworth has completed 60.4% of his passes for 234 yards and an interception. Illingworth was the signal caller in the loss to Iowa, going 14 for 28 passing with 82 yards and an interception.
The Nevada defense is allowed 27 ppg this year and ranks 46th allowing just 113.5 rushing yards per game, which gets tested most when facing Air Force.
How will Air Force respond from a big upset conference lossAir Force went 10-3 last season and welcomed back eight starters on offense and seven on defense. In the MWC media poll, Air Force was picked to finish second in the Mountain Division behind Boise State and fourth overall.
Air Force – Nevada: Know before you go https://t.co/D9TvBK6pPc— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) September 21, 2022
The Falcons looked great out the gate with wins over Northern Iowa 48-17 and Colorado 41-10. Last Friday, the Falcons went to Wyoming and were upset 17-14 as a 19.5-point favorite. The Falcons' rushing attack is No. 1 in the nation averaging 410.7 yards per game, but they were contained by the Cowboys who held them to 171 yards on 4.3 yards per rushing attempt. After only attempting 11 passes in the first two wins combined, Air Force senior quarterback Haaziq Daniels went 7 for 14 passing with 101 yards and two touchdowns in the loss but was held to just six rushing yards.
Air Force has allowed 14.7 ppg this season, and ranks 17th with 166.3 passing yards allowed, and 70th with 139.3 rushing yards allowed per game. The offense is averaging 34.3 ppg, and the air attack is far from a force, ranking 130th with 72.7 yards per game in the air.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Air Force came into this season ranked 16th in the nation in returning production while the Wolfpack ranked 131st according to Phil Steele magazine. The experience will show Friday as Air Force bounces back from a humbling road conference loss, and Nevada is coming off a physically draining game against Iowa. Outside of the Incarnate Word game, the Nevada offense hasn't looked great running or passing the ball this season, and I don't see them consistently moving the ball on Air Force. The Falcons' option attack will control this game and wear the Wolfpack down.
The big spread is a little concerning, seeing that Air Force will likely put together several long drives. But I don't see Nevada being competitive in this game, and wouldn't put much faith in them getting a lucky cover.
Full-Game Total Pick
Air Force is 18th in the nation in time of possession, but only 110th in plays ran per game. Nevada is 59th in time of possession but only 90th in plays run per game. This indicates that both teams will look to control the ball and eat up a lot of clock. I don't see much scoring coming from Nevada and the slow pace of play will limit the scoring opportunities overall. I am taking the under, expecting Air Force to win 34-9.