Group of Five Heavy Hitter Friday Preview 9/20/19

There are two key G5 match-ups on Friday but really there is just one that is the biggest  is a Mountain West opener with Air Force visiting Boise State.   Both teams are undefeated and have wins over Power 5 programs on their resumes.  The outcome of the conference opener could play a pivotal role in the conference standings and potential consideration for a New Year’s Day bowl.

Air Force and Boise State are meeting for the eighth time overall, all as conference foes with Boise State leads the series, 4-3.  Boise State is 3-1 all-time at home and the Broncos won last year’s match-up at USAFA 48-38.

Game of the Night:

Air Force (2-0) at Boise State (3-0)
When: Friday, September 20th, 9:00pm EDT
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
TV/Streaming: ESPN2/WatchESPN (subscription required)

Air Force Falcons

Air Force will look to slow down the game and dominate time of possession with its triple option attack.  RBs Kadin Remsberg and Tavin Birdow have combined for 355 rushing yards through two games this season. As a team, the Falcons are second in nation with 353.5 yards on the ground per game.

Air Force has the MWC best defense against the pass thus far, holding teams to 153 yards through the air per game with three touchdowns allowed and two interceptions.

The Falcons have defeated FCS Colgate easily 48-7 to start the season and with a bye before last week’s game at in-state and Pac-12 Colorado, the Falcons dominated the game before allowing the Buffalos to tie the game late in regulation.  Remsberg scored in the first frame of overtime and the he defense held strong, forcing a four and out to cap the thrilling 30-23 OT victory.

Key Player: QB Donald Hammond III finished 7-of-12 for 155 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the win at Colorado last year.  He had two big touchdown throws of 32 and 82 yards that keyed the Falcons to get out to an early lead.  The junior  also ran for 22 yards and another score on six carries.  While the Falcons offense will be happy to keep the ground game going, the passing game of Hammond will be the key to Air Force to upsetting Boise State on the road.

Boise State Broncos

Boise State beat Florida State, Marshall, and FCS Portland State to start its season.  The Broncos have a very young team but still are very talented.  The Broncos offense has not found its full footing yet but the BSU defense has been stellar all season especially in shutting down their opponents in the second half of each of its first three games.  Only Boise State and Wisconsin are the only FBS schools in the country that have not allowed a second-half point this season.

Boise State has won 19-consecutive conference openers since a loss in 1999, when the Broncos fell 17-10 to North Texas (Oct. 16) as a member of the Big West. The Broncos are 36-13 all-time in conference openers, including a mark of 20-3 when playing such games at home.

Including this year’s match-up, four of the eight meetings with Air Force will have been played on a Friday, with the Broncos dropping each of the last two.

Key Player: QB Hank Bachmeier is third in the Mountain West with 309 passing yards per game so far this season.  The true freshman has improved his efficiency rating every game, from 128.40 vs. Florida State to 156.12 vs. Portland State. He has performed beyond his experience with a talented receiving corps that has six guys with at least six catches this season.  Topping the list, however, is sophomore WR Khalil Shakir with 17 catches for 237 yards.  The key for Bachmeier against the strong Air Force defense will be to not force the ball anywhere and take what the defense gives him.

Fearless Prediction: With two strong defenses, this game should be fairly low scoring.  Air Force likely will start like it did last week and take an early lead but the stout second half defense for the Broncos will come through to stop the Falcons.  The Broncos then will muster up enough offense to squeak by Air Force.  Boise State 28 Air Force 23

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