Air Force is coming off a near miss against one of the best teams in the country. Wyoming is coming off of a brutal beating by perhaps an even better team.
Air Force is threatening to break into the Top 25 after ripping Brigham Young and scaring the Sooners. Wyoming is threatening to crack the bottom 25 of FBS teams after struggling against an FCS team in their opener and showing very little against Texas and Boise State.
The Falcons have kept Wyoming out of the end zone during their last two meetings. In the early season, Air Force is the best rushing team in the FBS and Wyoming is the worst after netting negative 21 yards against Boise State.
So, why is this apparent mismatch dangerous? Because the Cowboys play the Falcons tough at Laramie. They always have in what has been a fairly competitive series. While the Falcons our on a four-game win streak against the Cowboys, that is the longest in the history of the series.
The other reason is that the Falcons will have a hard time refocusing on this game after the demoralizing loss against Oklahoma. Air Force went into that game believing they could win it. And the loss stung worse than it would have if they had been blown out of the stadium, as was the case in Wyoming's loss.
The Falcons are all saying the right things, but they will have a hard time not coming out a bit flat in this one after pouring their heart and soul into last week's loss.
I also believe that Wyoming is a little better than they have looked to date. They played Texas better than the final score would indicate and were one of four bowl winners from the Mountain West last year. They also have one of the better young quarterbacks in the conference.
They will be eager to prove they are better than they have looked and this week may be their last chance to do it. Lose badly to Air Force at home and their season likely spirals out of control. So, in a sense, they are like a wounded animal backed into a corner. They will give Air Force their best shot.
Wyoming has also done a reasonable job controlling Air Force's dangerous offense over the last couple years. Last year, Air Force won 10-0, after taking a 0-0 tie into the half. Holding the offense that hung 47 points on Houston to 10 points is commendable.
This is a critical game for both teams. While Wyoming is trying to salvage their season before it spins out of control, Air Force is entering the heart of their schedule, a stretch that features Navy, national power Texas Christian, and Utah. They need this win to carry momentum into that stretch. A solid win also will push them into the Top 25.
I predict this game will be closer than many are expecting. Air Force will win it, but will need all four quarters to seal the deal with Wyoming's defense holding relatively tough against Air Force's offense until late in the game. Don't be surprised if the Cowboys carry a lead into half time.
Air Force 24, Wyoming 17