Air Force-BYU Football: What the Falcons' Loss Means to the Bowl Picture

Jake SchallerContributor INovember 23, 2009

SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 17: Max Hall #15 of BYU Cougars looks to pass the ball to teamate while playing against San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium on October 17, 2009 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)
Jacob de Golish/Getty Images

After Saturday's 38-21 loss to BYU, it looks to me like either the Armed Forces or New Mexico Bowls for the Falcons.

Barring a shocking upset loss by TCU in its regular season finale next weekend (at home against woeful New Mexico), the Horned Frogs are heading to a Bowl Championship Series bowl game. Utah and BYU, which will finish second and third in the Mountain Conference in some order, likely will go to the Las Vegas and Poinsettia Bowls.

So the Armed Forces and New Mexico Bowls, which share the third pick, will fight over Air Force. I know the New Mexico Bowl badly wants the Falcons (it has for the last couple years). But Armed Forces Bowl reps aren’t opposed to taking them for the third straight year.

For Air Force? Well, I’m not sure heading to the same bowl site for the third straight season is the best situation for fans. But the Falcons played at New Mexico this year, so if they go to the New Mexico Bowl, it will be their second trip to Albuquerque in four months.

Recruiting-wise, it’s a no-brainer. Of the 44 players listed as offensive and defensive starters and backups heading into Saturday’s game, 14 are from Texas. Zero are from New Mexico.

—Junior quarterback Ben Cochran’s numbers weren’t too pretty in Saturday's loss to BYU (14 carries, 47 yards; 5-for-18 passing for 88 yards, one touchdown pass to Josh Cousins and one interception), but I thought he did really well considering how difficult a situation he faced.

The guy had played only garbage snaps this season—and remember, he was playing safety in the preseason. But he came into the game in a tough environment with his team trailing the 19th-ranked team in the country 17-0 and handled himself well.

“I think he played very well,” junior fullback Jared Tew said. “Coming up in a big situation like that against a Top 25 team, with not that much experience and right when he came in making that big play to Cousins, that was huge and definitely gave us a spark. He definitely stepped up and we know we can count on him.”

—BYU quarterback Max Hall was tremendous on Saturday. I thought there were times when Air Force had good coverage on receivers, but he put the ball in about the only two-foot by two-foot space that it could be caught. He completed 19 of his first 22 passes, and one of the incompletions was a drop while another was one he threw away intentionally. That’s astounding.

I also like the passion with which he plays. He’s fired up, and he loves to play the game and he loves to win — clearly, he’s won more than any BYU quarterback ever. And that’s something.

So with all that said, he needs to cut out some of the taunting and celebrating and the complaining to the refs that he did after the first touchdown was called back. Plain and simple, he’s too good a player to have to act like that.

—After writing an article this week about how Air Force was on pace to set the record for fewest turnovers in a season and that it hadn’t turned the ball over more than twice in a game all season, I wrote in the blog about how nobody believes in jinxes more than me.

Sure enough, the Falcons turned the ball over four times against BYU, their most in a game since late October, 2007. So, to Air Force fans, sorry for the jinx.