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Air Force vs. Colorado State Football Prediction and Preview

Brad Roberts, Air Force Falcons Football

Brad Roberts and the Falcons take on the Rams in a matchup of Mountain West rivals looking to snap losing streaks

The Air Force Falcons and Colorado State Rams renew their in-state Mountain West rivalry this week in Fort Collins with both teams in search of a much-needed victory.

Air Force has come up short in back-to-back losses to Army and San Diego State, and both were painful. The Falcons are 6-3 overall following the 21-14 loss to the Black Knights, which cost them an opportunity to secure the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, while the 20-14 loss to the Aztecs on Oct. 23 dropped Air Force to 3-2 in conference play. Colorado State has lost three in a row following last week's 31-17 defeat in the Border War rivalry against Wyoming. The Rams are 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the league.

Air Force at Colorado State

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Air Force -2.5

When Air Force Has the Ball

The Falcons lead the nation in rushing offense with 302.4 yards per game. No one averages more rushing attempts (62.22), and only one FBS team (Marshall, 29) has more than Air Force's 28 rushing touchdowns this season. Running back Brad Roberts leads the Falcons with 913 yards on 203 carries, eight of them touchdowns. Only quarterback Haaziq Daniels, who is second with 629 yards and nine touchdowns on 125 attempts, has scored more.

And though Roberts and Daniels do much of the heavy lifting, Air Force also implements a diverse group of complementary skill position players, including receiver Micah Davis, who has 360 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns in addition to his 10 receptions, 221 yards, and two scores. Davis missed the Army game due to an undisclosed injury, and his playmaking ability would be missed again if he's unable to return this week. Fullbacks Emmanuel Michel (344 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and Omar Fattah (220 yds.) are also productive in their roles.

Daniels doesn't throw often — Air Force ranks 128th nationally with 9.7 pass attempts per game — and he has completed only 48.7 percent of his 78 pass attempts, but when the Falcons connect through the air it often results in a big play. Daniels would rank No. 5 on the FBS leaderboard with 10.1 yards per pass attempt if he qualified, having posted 788 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

When Colorado State Has the Ball

Not only has Trey McBride caught more passes this season than any other tight end in the country, but his 74 receptions also are fourth among all FBS players. McBride has caught at least six passes in each game this year. He leads the Rams with 838 receiving yards, which also leads all tight ends and ranks 22nd overall, and he has hit the century mark five times this season, coming up just short with 98 yards on nine catches last week.

Opponents have done a good job limiting McBride to just one touchdown, which he scored way back on Sept. 11 against Vanderbilt, but few players have had a bigger impact on their team's offense this year. Quarterback Todd Centeio has completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 2,073 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, and two other CSU players have combined to go 4-for-8 passing for 34 yards and one interception. Therefore, McBride has been on the receiving end of 42 percent of the Rams' completed passes and has accounted for 39.8 percent of the team's receiving production. According to Pro Football Focus, McBride has been targeted 98 times, which equates to 33.1 percent of Colorado State's pass attempts.

Running back David Bailey leads the Rams with 602 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 156 carries. Centeio has been a productive runner as well and ranks second on the team with 375 yards and 94 carries.

Final Analysis

Air Force has struggled on offense in each of its last two games, having posted matching season-low point totals (28 total). The Falcons also were held to fewer than 200 rushing yards in two straight contests. The Colorado State defense will pose another challenge as the Rams have allowed a 32.9 percent success rate in non-garbage time this season, which ranks third nationally, and FBS opponents have gained an average of 4.56 yards per play, which ranks seventh.

A stingy defense coupled with the home-field advantage, and the necessity for Colorado State to win each of its final three games to become bowl eligible means we should expect to see the Rams' best effort. A small upset would snap CSU's losing streak and could be the spark to a late-season run.

Prediction: Colorado State 25, Air Force 24

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— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and managing editor of CFBWinningEdge. Follow him on Twitter @CFBWinningEdge.