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Air Force came into the year replacing eight starters on both sides of the ball, but no one was harder to replace than four-year starter Tim Jefferson at quarterback.
Senior quarterback Connor Dietz has played pretty well this year, leading Troy Calhoun’s Falcons to a 6-6 record, just one win away from matching last year’s disappointing 7-6 season.
The 2011 team had high expectations going into the season following its 9-3 campaign the year before.
The schedule, though, proved too tough for Air Force as it dropped three straight October games to Notre Dame, San Diego State and Boise State.
This year’s squad has played admirably despite only returning six starters. A bowl victory would help Calhoun and the Air Force Falcons get back on track for another big season next year.
After losing five of its first six games this season by an average of two touchdowns, Rice has stormed back to win five of its last six games, including four straight, to reach six victories and bowl eligibility.
Unfortunately for Rice, none of their last four victories came against teams that were very good.
The record of Rice’s opponents during their four-game winning streak is a gruesome 11-37 this year, so a victory over Air Force would validate an impressive turnaround for head coach David Bailiff and the Owls.