Well folks, it’s already Thursday and we are inching closer to this weekends matchup between The low flying Air Force Falcons and the Fighting Irish. The Irish travel out to Colorado Springs, Colorado where the temperature is cold and Brian Kelly’s nipples are sure to be front and center depend how many layers coach actually wears. The week after a huge win over your rival is always a letdown alert however I think the burning of Troy was just the beginning of a successful second half of the season.
Playing an option team like Airforce is always a headache for both sides of the ball. The defense must watch for the fullback dive, the quarterback keep, or the pitch to the running back. The offense must take advantage of every possession, as option teams tend to win the time of possession battle due to a heavy running game. This matchup will be different from the past few games for the Irish who will now face a run heavy option attack instead of the drop back pro style quarterback in USC or the spread offense of Arizona State. While defending the option is always a tough task, the Irish have a huge advantage in one of the key areas in this game. In the trenches.
To get an effective running game going the offensive line must get a good push off the line of scrimmage and open running lanes. Air Force has been able to run the ball against their opponents very well so far this season averaging 268.6 yards per game with ranks 12th in the FBS. Notre Dame on the other hand is allowing only 123.3 yards per game which is 25th in the FBS. That’s not good force Air Force. What’s even worse is the Irish defensive line is a man amount boys compared to the Falcons. The Irish defensive line has an average of 323 pounds while Air Force is averaging a measly 261 pounds. It shouldn’t be all that surprising since all the players will be serving in the Air Force upon graduation and therefore being a big boy is not encouraged. Can you imagine Big Lou or Tuitt trying to fit in a cockpit of a fighter jet? That would not end well. The defensive line is one of the best in the nation and they will look to disrupt the Falcons rushing attack and force them to throw, which is something they desperately need to avoid as they have one of the worst passing attacks in the nation averaging only 102.3 yards per game.
What I’m really looking forward to this week is to see how well the Irish are able to run the ball against the horrific Falcons defense which ranks 113th in scoring defense giving up 37 touchdowns already this year, 111th in rushing defense giving up a whooping 221.3 yards per game, and a passing defense which ranks 102 giving up 267.4 yards to game. To put it simply the Falcons defense is god awful. They can’t stop anyone and it’s a large reason as to why their only win this season has been against Colgate. The Irish running game, which is only averaging 136.6 yards per game, struggled to begin the season but has played better in the last few outings. This week they can really break out and should have no problem running at will. The Irish offensive line weights an average of 311.4 pounds while the Air Force defensive line weights only an average of 256.7 pounds. Simply put the Irish should own the line of scrimmage and open huge running lanes all game long.
Overall the Irish should win this game with ease. Air Force has lost 5 games in a row and are really just a bad team. Expect the Irish to lean on the running game as they are careful with Tommy Rees as he comes back from a strained neck injury suffered against USC. Notre Dame should have their way with the Falcons and move to 6-2 on the season.
Players to watch
Offense: I’m really looking to see Tarean Folston this week. He showed a glimpse of brilliance with a long run against the Sooners but since then has been nursing an injury and has not seen much of the field. I expect all the Irish running backs to have good days but in especially interested to see how well this kid ca play.
Defense: We all know that Jaylon Smith is a stud. However I have my eye on him this week. This will be his first time playing against an option team and it’s a lot different especially for a true freshman. I’m eager to see how he handles his assignments.
Prediction: Notre Dame 41 Air Force 13
Other games to watch
12 UCLA at 3 Oregon – Oregon has been playing lights out again this season on offense under quarterback Marcus Mariotta and the defense has been outstanding and forcing turnovers. UCLA has been playing well under Brett Hundley at quarterback but they will be playing 3 freshmen on the offense line on the road. Yikes. Oregon 56 UCLA 31
10 Texas Tech at 15 Oklahoma – The Red Raiders are going fairly unnoticed despite their top ten ranking. Since the win at Notre Dame, Oklahoma has looked sloppy causing Irish fans to wonder where this Oklahoma team was when they were in South Bend. Texas Tech 35 Oklahoma 28
21 South Carolina at 5 Missouri – Missouri has been one of the surprise teams in the country this year and I’m pulling for them since it causes chaos in the SEC East. Matty Mauk has played well in the absence of injured QB James Franklin. South Carolina is on the road playing a backup QB with Connor Shaw out with an injury. Missouri 28 South Carolina 21
6 Stanford at 25 Oregon State – Since losing the season opener to FCS opponent Eastern Washington, the Beavers have won 6 in a row under the leadership of Sean Mannion who leads the nation in passing touchdowns. Not many people are giving the Beav’s a shot against the Stanford defense but I am. Oregon State 31 Stanford 30