By: Trent Pruitt (@trentbets)
Friday Night College Football Action is among us as the Lobos of New Mexico storm into Falcon Stadium to take on the Air Force Falcons. Despite both teams combining for an 0-5 conference record out of the gate, I’m excited for this Mountain West matchup as there is some money to be made here! Let’s dive into it and figure out who is going to get their first conference win of the season!
Spread: AF -7 (-109)
Money Line: AF -260, NM +220
Total: 55.5 (O -110, U -110)
Kickoff: 9:30 ET, Falcon Stadium, Colorado Springs, CO
New Mexico Lobos
It has not been the start that head coach Danny Gonzales would’ve liked to have in his new reign at New Mexico since coming over from Arizona State. I’ll be the first to say, I love Gonzales – he’s a defensive mastermind. Him, Herm Edwards, and the recruiting work of Antonio Pierce turned ASU’s defense to one of, if not the best in the PAC during his time there. However, that hasn’t translated over to the Lobos defense and that’s likely because he doesn’t have “his guys” in there yet. I’d give it a couple of seasons before Gonzales can recruit and get the right talent in there before this team starts rising in the ranks of the Mountain West. As of now, New Mexico is the 93rd ranked defense in the country, giving up 34.7 points per game.
Offensively, the Lobos are led by Tevaka Tuioti but he missed last week’s start after he was forced to enter concussion protocol after a hard hit. I have searched high and low and can’t find out if he’s going to play on Friday night but this won’t have any impact on our pick for this game. Tuioti is a more mature quarterback than their backup, Trae Hill, and he’s more of a threat in the ground game, but whoever is under center won’t be crucial to us. Their leading rusher is Bobby Cole, who has racked up 226 yards over the three games and is averaging 5.9 yards per attempt.
Air Force Falcons
Air Force has been fairly underwhelming to start the 2020 campaign with a 1-2 record out of the gate. Their lone win came back in the opener when they destroyed the Navy Midshipmen 40-7 in a battle of triple-option offenses. The leading rusher for the Falcons is Timothy Jackson and he’s amassed 178 yards on 34 carriers while Brandon Lewis has picked up 172 on 19 carries. Their quarterback is Haazig Daniels and he’s added 134 rushing yards and 133 through the air.
The story so far this season has been with the Air Force defense, who is ranked 38th in the country with just 24.3 points allowed per game. They held San Jose State to 17 points in a losing effort to go along with the 7 point performance against Navy. They did lose in a shootout to a talented Boise State squad that saw Boise drop 49 points on them. Elisha Palm is the leading tackler for the Falcons, racking up 19 tackles on the season and adding an interception too.
Final Analysis & Free Best Bet
I like Air Force to cover the seven points in this one (-109) for a unit. Quite simply, they have a better defense and that’s going to allow them to play their style of football. If they can limit New Mexico’s possessions, they’ll be able to milk clock and really shorten the game. Like I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Tuioti or Hall under center for the Lobos, neither guy has a completion percentage above 57% so I’m not worried.
It’s tough to prepare for the triple option in six days and I think that’ll be a factor in this one. All Haazig Daniels has to do is make the right reads and this game will go exactly how they want it to. Don’t be surprised if Air Force mixes in a few passes too on Friday night. New Mexico’s pass defense is suspect as they’ve given up 410.3 yards per game through the air. The Falcons offense is going to pound the rock, draw the safeties up, and then work in a few pass plays that will allow them to beat New Mexico over the top.
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