Breakdown of the schedule by degree of difficulty
Earlier this spring, the SP + projections were released and we took a look at the Air Force’s schedule, using their SP + rankings, against their competition to see how they stack up. If you missed it, you can take a look at this breakdown HERE.
As great as SP + is, especially for pot brewing, there are a lot of less tangible aspects that get lost. This is especially true for service academies, in this particular case the Air Force, and returning talent after taking years of looking back in 2020. Considering some of those less defined elements to predict the winning potential of a team, we have built a very preliminary assessment on the Falcons Calendar and presumed results by difficulty level.
SP + preseason screenings for Mountain West:
39. State of Boise
78. State of Fresno
81. State of San Jose
84. State of San Diego
93. Air Force
96. State of Colorado
121. State of Utah
124. New Mexico https://t.co/nyzlyRuU6v
– Mountain West Wire (@MWCwire) February 9, 2021
The FCS ritual game to kick off the season returns in 2021 after a hiatus last year. And to anyone’s surprise, the Falcons should go about business with little to no resistance against the Leopards. And despite their ambitions to try to build their programs, New Mexico and UNLV respectively should not pose a real threat to the Air Force.
The Navy is rarely a “given” in the winning column, especially after a losing season. Unfortunately for the Mids, they don’t appear to be drastically improved over a porous 2020 squad. CSU and FAU are similar in that they both tend to bring talented transfers, but where they have diverged, c is success. The Owls have done a pretty good job overall over the past few years competing in C-USA, where the Rams appear to be stuck in a standstill, even catching up on reverse at times. For CSU, it’s despite having a few elite playmakers year after year. The Aggies are a real unknown for 2021. It would be very easy to write them off based on recent history, but Blake Anderson is a very good coach, and he’s brought in a lot of new talent through the transfer portal. The Falcons are expected to win each of those games, but they could lose if the right or wrong circumstances arise.
+3 wins +1 loss
The Aztecs have owned the Air Force in recent history, but much of that success can be attributed to their former head coach, Rocky Long. Regardless of the coach, or even an anemic offense, the state of San Diego has proven to be a tall order for opposing offenses. The military and Wyoming are very similar in this, they have an identity and remain very loyal to that. The West Point Cadets turned the tide in a series historically dominated by the Falcons. Wyoming regularly presented a challenge with very physical play and stingy defense.
+1 Victory +2 Losses
There is no game in the program that is “impossible to win”. There are, however, two pairings that are problematic, particularly due to the pairing issues posed by the skill position units of opposing offenses. The Broncos could have named their score against the Air Force last season (and sort of) with their alternate quarterback. Well, all that talent is back in Boise. Sure, the Falcon defense will receive a nice injection with the returning players, but it’s a tall order. The story is very similar for Nevada, although they didn’t meet last season. The Wolf Pack is loaded at skill positions and has a nightmare match at the close end.
The Falcons’ biggest opportunity to get into the win column over either of these teams is to have their offense on all cylinders. The Air Force offensive could be quite problematic for both defenses, possibly even more so for Nevada. They could certainly use a Weston Steelhammer-type performance, helping to inflict six turnovers if they are to start a new winning streak against Boise.
+1 Victory +1 Loss
Bright lights, great adversaries 👊
LOTS of opportunities to watch the Falcons in 2021 ✈️
– Air Force Football (@AF_Football) May 27, 2021
There’s no reason the Air Force won’t win a bowl invite in 2021, but more importantly, it could take a step forward in the Mountain Division. The top priority, being the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy causes severe separation anxiety in Colorado Springs. There is no promise that their fate will return to their place this year, despite a proud history of winning it.
Eight wins is a very reasonable, even conservative number. The ceiling would be an undefeated team (11-0), but it would be a “all rebounds go their way” campaign. There are some very good players back for 2021, but the complete replacement of the entire offensive line cannot be ignored.
All things Considered; a New Years Six cap, along with a Bowl Invitation cap isn’t a bad place to sit in May.