Almost Doesn't Cut It (Again)

Jake SchallerContributor IOctober 25, 2009

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 9: Quarterback Shaun Carney #5 of the Air Force Academy Falcons hands off to running back Ryan Williams #21 against the University of Tennessee Volunteers on September 9, 2006 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

A year ago, Utah totally dominated its game against Air Force statistically, but the Falcons hung tough. And the Utes did not pull away until scoring a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Saturday, Air Force out-played Utah and had an advantage in just about every statistical category…but still lost.

It’s been one of those seasons for the Falcons. In each of their four games against top-flight opponents, they’ve lost in heartbreaking fashion. By seven at Minnesota in a game they seemed to be in control of through most of three quarters. By three in overtime at Navy in a game that will continue to sting Falcon fans for a while. By three to a TCU team that absolutely destroyed BYU in Provo Saturday. And, of course, in overtime to Utah, 23-16.

“They just keep getting harder and harder. They’re really tough to take,” Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz said. “This one was extremely hard just because everybody gave everything they had and left it on the field. They just keep getting harder and harder to take, so hopefully we won’t have to take any more.”

The Falcons have three straight games in which they should be favored—at Colorado State this coming Saturday, and then at home against Army and woeful UNLV. Then comes a trip to Provo to face the Cougars.

An upset of one of the Big Three in the Mountain West Conference would be nice. And if Saturday’s game against TCU is any indication, the Cougars are vulnerable.

More importantly, however, the Falcons can’t slip against the teams they should beat. They’ve done a good job—so far—of not letting heartbreaking losses to good teams keep them down.

But this is four devastating losses now. And, as Dietz said, they’re “getting harder and harder.”

The Falcons coaching staff will have a tough task in trying to get the team back off the mat—again—for next weekend in Fort Collins.