2023 Season Preview – Air Force Falcons

2022 Record – 10-3; 5-3 Mountain West

Bowl: VS. Baylor in Armed Forces Bowl (W 30-15)

2023 Schedule

  • 9/2 – VS Robert Morris
  • 9/9 – at Sam Houston (In Houston)
  • 9/16 – VS Utah State
  • 9/23 – at San Jose State
  • 9/30 – VS San Diego State
  • 10/14 – VS Wyoming
  • 10/21 – at Navy
  • 10/28 – at Colorado State
  • 11/4 – VS Army (In Denver)
  • 11/11 – at Hawai’i
  • 11/18 – VS UNLV
  • 11/25 – at Boise State

2022 Recap

Air Force started off 2022 with a pair of huge wins. The first was over FCS Northern Iowa, but the second was a 41-10 win over in-state opponent Colorado. Although Colorado had a down year, the face Air Force was able to pull off a 31-point victory was an impressive feat.

Conference play got off to a shaky start. It started with a 17-14 loss at Wyoming. This was the start of a 2-3 beginning in the Mountain West, though there was a nice 13-10 non-conference win against Navy in Commander Cup play.

The second half of the season, the defense stepped up big and this led to the Falcons winning their final four games. The first was against Army to clench the Commander Cup, but then they also won out in their last three conference plays. Over the last six games of the year, Air Force only gave up an average of 8.5 point in game. That is an amazing feat in this era of college football.

To end the year Air Force played in the Armed Forces bowl against Baylor. The defense played strong again and led the Falcons to a 30-15 victory. Air Force finished the season with a 10-3 record, 5-3 in Mountain West play.

2023 Preview

Air Force knows their identity maybe more than any other team in the country. They run the ball, then they run the ball, and, finally, they run the ball. This is easily seen by the fact that the led the nation in rushing in 2022, averaging 327 yards per game. This was 38 yards more than second ranked Army; a team known for their triple option. That is just crazy in an era known for passing.

Of course, that means the big question is if the Falcons can keep up that pace again this year. There are some pieces missing. Quarterback Haaziq Daniels and fullback Brad Roberts are both gone, but running back John Lee Eldridge will return to lead the charge. Jensen Jones will be the new starting quarterback but had extremely limited snaps in 2022. Either way, the key beyond these positions will be the offensive line. If they can open up holes almost anyone can run through them.

Defense is another strong suit for Air Force. They led the nation in total defense by only allowing 254 yards per game. Granted, this is helped by an offense that controls the ball and runs the clock. Still, this is an impressive feat.

Eight defensive starters are expected back for the Falcons which help keep them strong. The only major loss is linebacker Vince Sanford, who led the team with 10.5 tackles for loss in the 2022 campaign. Payton Zdroik, who was second in TFLs with 10, will be back and should help keep things solid. Overall leading tacker Trey Taylor also returns at safety to give them depth in the secondary.

2023 Prediction

Air Force has a very favorable schedule with no Power Five teams in sight in the non-conference slate. It starts off with games against Robert Morris and brand new FBS team Sam Houston State. The Falcons should be able to get wins in both of those games to begin with a 2-0 start.

The other two non-conference games during the season are against Army and Navy in the Commander Cup games. I believe Air Force is still the strongest of the military academies and should be able to maintain the trophy again this year.

The Mountain West is always a competitive conference, but when you are in the same division as Boise State that is tough. The conference season starts off with a good Utah State team, but it is at home. This is followed by a game at San Jose State that fell back down a little last season.

There is no Fresno State on the schedule, which is good for the Falcons. The season might come down to the season finale on the road in Boise. If the Falcons can pull off an upset, they might be able to make it to the championship game. But, in the end, they will fall just short. They will still finish the season with a strong record and easily make a bowl game to end the year.

Prediction – 9-3

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