The Mountain West continues to dominate this bowl season, with the Air Force Falcons crushing the Houston Cougars of Conference USA 47-20.
Houston came into the game on the heels of one of their most successful seasons in recent years, sporting a 10-3 record. The Cougars, who spent a fair portion of the year ranked in the top twenty five, boasted wins against Big 12 Oklahoma State and Texas Tech , and a vaunted offensive attack led by quarterback Casey Keenum .
Air Force, however, exploited the achilles heal of the Cougar team...poor defense. The Falcon ground orientated attack accumulated a whopping 563 yards, 402 of them on the ground. Starting with their first drive, which ended in a touchdown, Air Force basically moved the ball at will.
On defense, Air Force also shut down the Cougars, holding their high scoring attack to only two field goals on their way to a 24-6 half time lead, and accumulating 6 interceptions during the game.
The second half began with an exchange of touchdown kick off returns; Houston's Tyron Carrier took back the opening kick back 79 yards. Any momentum gained from this was extinguished a few moments later, however, as Air Forces Jonathan Warzeka took back the ensuing kick 100 yards to score for the Falcons.
Houston did manage to move the ball a bit better in the second half, responding with their only touchdown drive of the game to cut the lead to 31-20.
The Air Forces offense then responded and took control, scoring the last 17 points of the game and keeping the Cougars off the field for long stretches at a time.
The Mountain West now improves to 4-0 in bowl games, with previous victories of Wyoming over Fresno State , Utah over California , and BYU over Oregon State .
This also improves the bowl record of the regular season opponents of the Mountain West's remaining bowl team, TCU , to an amazing 6-0 (TCU's out of conference foes SMU and Clemson also won their respective bowl games).
This should be some fat to chew on for those who claim that the Mountain West is a weak conference, and that TCU's schedule was lacking in challenge this year.