Top Rushing Attacks Meet When Air Force Hosts Navy
By: Willie Bee
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Run left, run right, run up the middle and then run some more just for good measure. That is what awaits college football bettors and fans alike in the Saturday morning tilt at the Up, Up & Away Academy outside Colorado Springs.
Though he was in the US Army, it's difficult not to think of that "running fool" Forest Gump as Air Force and Navy get together for an early Saturday kickoff at Falcon Stadium. Those backing the flyboys are being asked to lay 10 points according to the Don Best Pro Odds, and an initial 55-point total has remained stale in early betting.
Ken Niumatalolo brings the Midshipmen into the contest averaging an impressive 219.3 yards per game rushing, good enough to rank 24th in the country. However, that figure pales in comparison to Troy Calhoun's Falcons who lead the nation with nearly 400 yards per game on the ground. That has translated to 21 touchdowns in four games for Air Force (2-2 straight up & against the spread), 19 of them on the ground, and a 37.8 scoring average which is 27th nationally.
Navy's offense, meanwhile, has scored just six TDs with the defense adding a seventh, and the Midshipmen (1-3 SU & ATS) are way down near the bottom in scoring at 14.5 ppg.
Quarterback Trey Miller has accounted for four of Navy's six offensive scores, three of them via the ground. The Middies failed to push the pigskin across the goal line last week in a 12-0 setback to San Jose State. In fact, neither team registered a TD with all of the Spartans' points coming on field goals. The shutout was the first for Navy under Niumatalolo, and the 144-yard offensive showing was the lowest for a Navy squad since being held under 100 in a 38-0 shellacking by Connecticut in 2002.
One thing the Midshipmen have to do this week is get running back Gee Gee Greene more touches. The senior has averaged close to eight yards a tote this season, but has only 25 carries combined in the first four games. San Jose State's defensive effort last week limited Greene to just 13 yards on six attempts.
Both of the Falcons' setbacks came on the road, a fine showing at Michigan where they fell 31-25 as big 21½-point 'dogs and an inexplicable 38-35 defeat at UNLV where Air Force was laying 10½ in the Mountain West opener for each school. Calhoun's crew was able to run almost at will against the Rebels, but the defense couldn't stop UNLV's offense that recorded a very balanced effort with almost 200 yards rushing and an even 250 yards passing.
The pass defense was again vulnerable last week against Colorado State, but the Falcons were still able to grab the 42-21 win and cover as 14-point favorites. Air Force QB Connor Dietz only completed two passes, but both went for touchdowns (his only TD passes this season), while Cody Getz tallied almost half of the Falcons' 459 yards on the ground with 25 carries for 222 yards.
This game kicks off the annual Commander-in-Chief Trophy race with both Navy and Air Force scheduled to meet Army later this season. The Falcons have won those honors each of the past two seasons and lead the series with Navy by a 27-17 margin.
Last year's battle in Annapolis was a classic with Air Force taking a 35-34 overtime win that was not without controversy. Navy staged a furious fourth-quarter rally to force OT, then scored the first touchdown in extra play. However, the Middies were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after the TD, and their extra point attempt from 35 yards out was blocked. Air Force went on to score on their OT possession with the extra point providing the final margin.
Air Force was a 3-point underdog in that game and will be gunning for its third straight win in the series. Six of the last eight, and four of the last five played at Air Force, have gone 'under' the total.
Saturday's kickoff will come at 9:30 a.m. local time, and current forecasts call for partly cloudy skies and the thermometer remaining in the 30s for most of the contest.