CU Buffs at Air Force football: 4 things to know, key matchups and predictions
9th September 2022

CU Buffs (0-1) at Air Force (1-0); 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Falcon Stadium

TV/Radio: KCNC-TV (Ch. 4)/ 630 AM, 94.1 FM

Line: Air Force -17.5, 50 over/under

Weather: 52 degrees, cloudy, possible showers

What to know

Heads, it’s B-Lew; Tails, it’s Shrout? For the second straight week, Buffs coach Karl Dorrell is keeping his quarterback plans under wraps until kickoff. Neither Brendon Lewis (13-of-18 passing, 78 yards) or J.T. Shrout (13-of-23, 157 yards) were particularly impressive vs. TCU, although Shrout got CU into the end zone on a garbage-time TD toss to Jordyn Tyson with 73 seconds left.

Points at the Academy matter. Air Force has lost only six home games since 2018, and the six losses have two major factors in common. The first? Finishing drives whenever you’ve got the ball. Those six opponents averaged 3.5 points per possession vs. the Falcons, not including kneel-downs. Context: CU averaged 1.3 points per possession in its opener against TCU.

Turnovers at the Academy (also) matter. The second factor? In those six AFA home losses, the Falcons either lost or broke even in the turnover battle. The three teams that won at Falcon Stadium last fall were a combined plus-4 in turnover margin against the Zoomies. Against a Troy Calhoun offense, empty possessions are fatal.

Buffs have history at their backs. CU hasn’t lost at the Academy since 1963, in a game that was moved to December because of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Buffs went 5-0 over their next five visits to Falcon Stadium, including a 28-27 win in their last trip to date — Oct. 5, 1974.

Key matchups

CU S Trevor Woods vs. Air Force QB Haaziq Daniels. Woods had a solid night vs. TCU (team-high eight stops), but Daniels is a veteran when it comes to pulling the strings of the Zoomies’ triple-option attack. The senior ran for 107 yards and threw for 109 more — scoring through the air and on the ground — against Northern Iowa last Saturday.

CU coach Karl Dorrell vs. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. Unless you’re bringing a top 25 defense into the Academy, getting conservative or cautious offensively against Air Force at Falcon Stadium, more often than not, gets you whupped. Field goals will not beat AFA. Punting on fourth down from the Falcons’ 41 will almost never beat AFA. If Dorrell has any shred of riverboat gambler in him, this might be the time — and the venue — to let it roll.

Predictions

Sean Keeler, sports columnist: Air Force 30, CU 16

Offensive possessions against the Zoomies are precious and few. After a second-half collapse against TCU that re-opened several old wounds, CU should come out with a circle-the-wagons mentality. But will it matter if this offense can’t put up points?  Or, ya know, the defense can’t tackle?

Matt Schubert, deputy sports editor: Air Force 34, CU 23

The Falcons are a problem even in the best of times. (Just ask Mel Tucker.) And the worst of times? Well, that’s four quarters of slow, grinding torture. The Buffs couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start than what transpired last week in Boulder. If they think they’ll find a reprieve at the Academy on Saturday, they are sorely mistaken.

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