When you think of local college football rivalries, Air Force and Wyoming is a dadgum good one.
As long as you don’t look at the overall series record. The Falcons are 229-26-3.
But in recent history, Air Force and the Cowboys have been the best local rivalry, with some, shall we say, colorful exchanges between a current and previous head coach.
“Yeah, right, look at me, Mr. Howdy Doodie.”
Both teams want to beat the other, and just because there isn’t a traveling trophy for this series doesn’t take away from that fact.
After a year off due COVID-19, the two teams are set to smash helmets this Saturday at Falcons Stadium. The Falcons (4-1 overall, 0-1 Mountain West) won the most previous meeting in 2019, while UW (4-0) won three straight prior to that victory.
It’s the PlayColorado College Football Game of the Week.
Wyoming vs Air Force odds
What adds to the excitement of Saturday’s game is how good both teams are this season.
When you sprinkle in the fact they didn’t play each other last year, you have a recipe for a great contest.
The college football betting odds list the Falcons as the favorites.
In the young season, this is the first time the Pokes have been an underdog. Conversely, Air Force has been favored in each game.
The other popular betting market for Saturday’s game is the total. The over/under sits at .
That number seems low, especially for the Falcons. This season alone they’ve hit over 30 points in four of their five games. Since 2016, Air Force has scored 30 or more points in a game 36 times.
In the Cowboys’ four games this season, they’ve actually hit at least 45 points twice.
However, the last time the two teams played each other, Air Force won 20-6.
While Colorado does allow fans to bet on the in-state teams, unlike Illinois and Virginia, the state does not allow college football prop bets.
For those reading in Wyoming, you have legalized online sports betting.
Keys to the game
When it comes to Air Force football, it starts and stops with the run.
If the Pokes want any shot to pull off the upset, they must contain and stop the rushing attack. That’s easier said than done since the Falcons lead the nation in rushing at 367.4 yards per game and are second in time of possession (31 minutes, 31 seconds).
As the Casper Star Tribune points out, Craig Bohl and Wyoming have an extra week to prepare since they’re coming off of a bye week. And in the 2019 game, the Cowboys defense did hold Air Force to 162 yards rushing. If UW gets a similar defensive performance on Saturday, that’s the path to a road win.
If the Falcons triple-option offense goes off like it has all season, they’ll get the win.
For Air Force on defense, it’s all consistent pressure on Cowboys quarterback Sean Chambers and limiting the big plays.
In his career, Chambers is 13-3 as a starting QB, so he clearly finds ways to win games and does whatever is needed to make that happen. That’s why it’s so important for the Falcons defense to make life as miserable as possible for Chambers in and out of the pocket on Saturday.
And when it comes to rivalry games, it always comes down to turnovers. Who forces the extra possession is so huge in close contests. Air Force and the Pokes are tied for 13th in the nation in turnover margin. The Falcons are plus-5; Wyoming is plus-four.
Any time rivals meet, you know to expect the unexpected. Throw in two good teams, and the excitement shoots up.
This has the feel of being another classic game.