Cowboys and Falcons clash in a key Mountain West divisional battle
The Wyoming Cowboys and Air Force Falcons will square off in Colorado Springs on Saturday night in a Mountain West battle with postseason implications. Wyoming (6-3, 4-1 MW) is still alive in the hunt for the Mountain West Mountain division title and needs a win on Saturday night to stay within a game of Boise State. Air Force (4-5, 3-2) is playing for bowl eligibility at this point and needs to win two of its last three to reach the postseason. With Boise State on the schedule next week, this home tilt against the Cowboys becomes that much more important.
Wyoming at Air Force
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 10:15 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPNU
Spread: Air Force -3
Three Things to Watch
1. Can Wyoming slow down the Air Force rushing attack?
The Falcons are sixth nationally in rushing yards per game. It's what they do, and they do it well. It's the perfect recipe for matching up with a team that wants to move the ball through the air and extend the game — basically Wyoming's strategy. The Cowboys are 5-0 when they score 27 points or more but are 1-3 when they don't. Wyoming will have a tough time reaching 27 points if Air Force is eating up clock on the ground all night.
2. Which Josh Allen shows up?
For all the preseason hype he garnered over the summer, the Wyoming quarterback has been largely unimpressive and extremely inconsistent. When he's on, Wyoming is tough to beat. The Cowboys are 4-0 when Allen tops 200 yards through the air. They are 2-3 when he doesn't. Look for head coach Craig Bohl to come out and test an underrated Air Force secondary early on. The Falcons give up only 162.8 yards per game through the air, good enough for sixth nationally. In what has been a roller-coaster-type season for Allen, he'll need to be on top of his game to get the win on the road Saturday night.
3. The weather
Sure, both programs are located in places where cold weather is the norm this time of year, but it's still early in the year for frigid temperatures. Nobody is used to it yet, and there's a chance the temperature could be freezing by kickoff. Every hit will hurt more. The ball will be harder. The air is already thin, but the cold makes it worse. Who will tire first? Will Air Force's physical rushing attack benefit from or be hindered by the temperature? You can ask the same of Wyoming's passing attack. The weather will have an impact in this one. Keep an eye on the body language of both teams in that regard.
This game looks pretty even any way you slice it. You've got two pretty solid coaches squaring off, so both teams should be well prepared. The difference in this one may come down to who wants it more. Right now, with Air Force playing from behind in terms of nailing down a postseason bid, it feels like the Falcons might be the more motivated team. With the home crowd behind them, look for the Falcons to lean on that elite rushing attack to shorten the game. On defense, I see Josh Allen having a difficult time finding open receivers against the Air Force secondary. This has all the makings of a solid win for the Falcons in a game that they control from start to finish.
Prediction: Air Force 24, Wyoming 13
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.