NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl prediction roundtable with the Campus Insiders staff. Breaking down what will happen between South Alabama and Air Force.
South Alabama had one of the biggest non-conference stunners when it won at Mississippi State early in the year. Then the Jaguars promptly lost their next two games and finished 6-6. They’re going to look more like the team that finished 2-6 in the Sun Belt rather than the team that shocked the Bulldogs, as Air Force does whatever it wants offensively in an easy victory.
I think Air Force takes this one rather easily. South Alabama is one of the nation’s worst against the run (No. 98 nationally, 212 yards allowed), while Air Force boasts the country’s No. 3 rushing offense with 323 yards per game. The Falcons keep the Jaguars off balance all game and put this one out of reach before the first half ends.
This one’s easy. Dallas Davis will get picked off twice against a tough-knit Air Force defense. Xavier Johnson will do all he can, but he’ll be bottled up for the most part. Even with Nate Romine hobbled, D.J. Johnson, Jacobi Owens and Shayne Davern will all have solid showings running the ball, and the Falcons will pick up the win in a physical game.
With a win, Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun would notch his second 10-win season (2014) with the school. The Jaguars have proven that they can defeat teams with better talent—they have wins over Mississippi State and San Diego State—but it was an uneven season complete with disappointing losses. Air Force has won five in a row, including a 27-20 win over Boise State in its regular-season finale, and Calhoun’s squad will make it six straight behind strong play under center from QB Arion Worthman and a stingy secondary led by safety Weston Steelhammer—who has the best name ever!
Remember a long time ago (okay, back in September) when this world wasn’t such a crazy place, everything seemed possible and South Alabama went into Starkville and beat Mississippi State? Such innocent times.
The Jaguars won’t have as much success against an Air Force defense that is tough to get yards on and an offense that averages 34.3 points per game. The Falcons win this one handily.