Fresno State will be visiting Boise State in the Mountain West football championship game on Dec. 3, but here’s an interesting question.
Which team leads the Mountain West in overall wins?
Boise State (8-3, 7-0) is tied for the most wins with none other than Air Force, which is 8-3, 4-3.
Air Force has quietly produced an impressive season, even though the Falcons aren’t leading in the publicity department. First off, there is a Power Five win over Colorado. (Ok, we get that Colorado, 1-10, isn’t very good, but a Power Five win is still a Power Five win). In addition, Air Force has won the unofficial state title after Saturday’s 24-12 home win over Colorado State.
Air Force has earned its first Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy since 2016 with an earlier 13-7 win over Army and a 13-10 triumph over Navy.
BTW, that is the same Navy team that this past week upset UCF, which is still ranked No. 25 in this week’s Associated Press and USA Today Top 25.
Even the losses have been impressive. The three losses to Wyoming, Utah State, and Boise State have been by a total of 15 points.
It’s not as if this is a once-in-a-lifetime season for the Falcons. In the 16 seasons under coach Troy Calhoun, Air Force has won eight or more games 10 times and has made 11 bowl appearances, with a 12th coming this year.
As usual, Air Force is running through and around opponents.
Like its fellow service academy teams Army and Navy, Air Force runs the triple option offense. The Falcons lead FBS schools in rushing offense, averaging 336.4 yards per game. Air Force is second nationally with 33 rushing touchdowns, one behind leader Baylor. Air Force is 10th in rushing average (5.53 yards per carry), but the Falcons are first in rushing attempts with 669.
During Saturday’s win over Colorado State, Air Force had 359 total yards, all on the ground. The Falcons were 0 for 2 passing.
In 11 games, Air Force has attempted 77 passes, including 74 by 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior Haaziq Daniels, who has thrown six TD passes, not too bad for a running team.
Three players have rushed for 500 or more yards, led by Brad Roberts, a hard-running 5-11, 215-pound senior who has gained 1,425 yards (5.2 avg.) and 14 touchdowns. This came after he rushed for 1,356 yards (4.5 avg.) and 13 touchdowns a year ago. Others in the over 500 club are John Lee Eldridge (648 yards, 8.4 avg., and four touchdowns) and Daniels (584 yards, 5.2 avg., seven touchdowns).
Of course, while the running game garners most of the publicity, Air Force’s defense is a major reason for this year’s success.
Air Force is sixth nationally in scoring defense, allowing 14.18 points per game. Only Georgia, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa have allowed fewer points per game. That’s some pretty heady company.
For a team that doesn’t throw the ball frequently, Air Force sure knows how to defend the pass. The Falcons are third nationally in passing yards allowed, just 153.8 yards per game.
Air Force is tied for 17th in rushing defense, allowing 108.9 yards per game.
Junior free safety Trey Taylor and senior linebacker TD Blackmon share the team lead with 61 tackles apiece.
Senior linebacker Vince Sanford is coming off one of the more dominating performances this season with four sacks against Colorado State.
The Falcons take a three-game winning streak into their regular-season finale on Saturday at San Diego State.
Then comes a bowl game for an Air Force team that has won three consecutive bowl games. That is just another impressive stat for a program that has compiled quite a few of them in an under-the-radar way.