Can the Falcons really run the table this season?
The kickoff to the 2022 college football season continues to appear less and less on the horizon. For the Air Force Falcons, there has been quite a bit of activity after a lull in action after spring camp, which ended nearly five months ago.
If you haven’t been keeping track, a number of Falcons have been named to various prestigious preseason awards and all-conference nominee watch lists. This coincided nicely with the recent completion of the Mountain West Media Days. Prior to either of these announcements was the release of the Air Force football schedule for the 2022 season.
Pulse check time. We are approaching the football season. If you’re a fan of the United States Air Force Academy, those “BpMs” should officially be high, because this could be a special season in Colorado Springs.
You do not believe me ? How about a credible college football insider like Brett McMurphy with Action Network HQ? The Falcons look so poised to dominate that McMurphy guarantees the Air Force will win every game on the schedule.
Ok, enough with the hyperbole, maybe there was no promise of a decreed undefeated season, but the Falcons were in good enough company for an interesting take. In the upcoming season, the Air Force will be one of six teams favored in every game this year. Even for the USAFA optimist, it’s quite a noble task, managing the table within the given time frame.
I submit to you that there is no game on the schedule that the Falcons could not win (see the Utah State Aggies game against Alabama), but that does not indicate that they should. The college football season is a chore for every team, but that’s especially true for military academies that have a lot more to manage than the rest of the college landscape. If you’re unfamiliar with some of the limitations that only cadets face, far beyond the obvious of combat training, do yourself a favor and explore the subject. It’s as interesting as it is humiliating. Or at least humble to give this humble Penn State alumnus some healthy appreciation.
What stands out?
There are certainly more formidable matches on this year’s schedule than lesser matches. While being favored against teams like Boise State, Colorado (Boulder) and Utah State might seem a little surprising; The Falcons have had some level of success against them recently. With a very experienced squad coming off a double-digit winning campaign, it’s not irrational to force the Air Force to be favored.
There are a few games that seem a bit more over the top to favor the Falcons if you really dig into the details. There’s no team with a bigger gripe of being an underdog on this schedule than San Diego State. The Aztecs are currently on a nine-game winning streak against the Air Force, dating back to 2010, with their most recent win coming last year.
To put their recent dominance into context; Prior to this recent decade-long winning streak, San Diego State had won just nine of its first 28 games against the Falcons. It was a real game-changer in this conference game. If the Falcons want to end this losing streak, they will have to do so under difficult circumstances. They will face the Aztecs in their last regular season game of the year.
Air Force routinely digs deep into their depth chart at the end of seasons. The grueling season takes no pity on anyone, but that’s especially true for the undersized, overworked, and absentee Military Academy squads.
Speaking of military teams, let’s talk about the military. Specifically, why being favored over the West Point football team is debatable. In 2022, like most years, the Air Force will have a roster appearing more experienced, talented and deeper than Jeff Monken’s crew of New York. Somehow, this formula hasn’t yielded wins in four of the last five seasons.
So, while it’s no surprise that the Air Force would be favored in a neutral site game against the Army, based on their respective team’s 2022 entry into the season. Having a more talented and comprehensive roster, top to bottom (which the Air Force currently has) guarantees nothing against their bitter rivals.
The whole idea that the Air Force is favored in most games, let alone their entire schedule, is a dichotomy. The Falcons will not face a team that, according to current recruiting metrics, is “better” than this one. Even so, being favored in some games can still be reasonable. But for an entire calendar, with as many talented opponents as the 2022 modes? It’s a testament to what Troy Calhoun, his team and his players have been able to accomplish.
The Air Force may not go undefeated this year. But there isn’t a team on their schedule that the Falcons can’t snag an L. And I promise you none of those teams will look past the Falcons either.
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The story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire