|New Mexico Odds||+7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Air Force Odds||-7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+225 / -335 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||55.5 (-108 / -112) [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET|
The New Mexico Lobos (0-3) face the Air Force Falcons (1-2) on Friday at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs.
This game marks the 38th meeting between the two programs, with Air Force holding a 23-14 series edge. The Falcons hold an even bigger advantage at home, holding an impressive 13-3 lifetime mark against the Lobos.
The Falcons won last year’s game, 44-24, in Albuquerque, thanks to an explosive second half. Both teams are looking for their first Mountain West wins of the season, making this matchup even more important for each squad.
New Mexico will have its hands full as it faces the rested, run-intensive Air Force triple-option offense on a short week. However, the Lobos’ run defense should be up for the tall order it faces against the Air Force run game.
New Mexico Lobos
The Lobos are based out of Las Vegas for the time being due to of local COVID-19 restrictions on team gatherings in Albuquerque. They head into Colorado Springs on a short week after losing to Nevada, 27-20, last Saturday.
Redshirt junior quarterback Tevaka Tuioti was left that game, putting him at questionable for this week’s game. Tuioti was replaced by redshirt sophomore quarterback Trae Hall in the defeat.
With the Nevada loss added to its résumé, the Lobos remain winless after dropping games against San Jose State and Hawaii earlier in the season. Suffice it to say, first-year head coach Danny Gonzales is eager to secure his first career win.
The Lobos head into the matchup ranked 44th in FBS total offense. New Mexico is averaging 431.3 yards per game, scoring eight offensive touchdowns (five passing and three running) so far this season.
The Lobos have a Predicted Points Added (PPA) per play of 0.12, which is below the conference average of 0.18. The offense is middle of the pack when it comes to allowing Havoc, featuring a rating of 0.17 rating. New Mexico will look to continue its balanced attack against the Air Force, but an emphasis on passing should be in the game plan.
Defensively, New Mexico has allowed some big offensive performances this season, resulting in a 116th ranking in FBS total defense. The Lobos are yielding 491.3 yards per game, with the vast majority of the success against it coming via the opposition’s passing game.
Of the 13 touchdowns New Mexico has allowed, 12 have come through the air.
The Lobos hold a defensive PPA per play of 0.29, which is well above the Mountain West average of 0.19. However, the Lobos are below average in generating Havoc on defense, with a rate of 0.14. So far this season, the way to beat the Lobos is by exploiting their passing defense.
Air Force Falcons
The Falcons won their season opener against Navy, but went on to drop their next two games against San Jose State and Boise State. Air Force is coming off of a two-week break following back-to-back cancellations against Army and Wyoming due to COVID-19 issues.
The team has been quarantining in a hotel close to campus since November 5, with the hope of avoiding further complications. It’s unclear whether or not the Falcons will be at full strength for the game given their COVID-19 situation.
That said, Air Force looks to get back on track after a two-week layoff following two consecutive losses. The Falcons are ranked 67th in FBS in total offense, averaging 397.3 yards per game. They have scored nine offensive touchdowns this season, with eight of them coming on the ground.
The Falcons have an offensive PPA per play of 0.28, which is well above the conference average of 0.18. They also hold an offensive Havoc rate of 0.11, which is the lowest in the Mountain West. The triple-option offense allows the Falcons to be diligent with their offensive drives, avoiding blow-up plays.
Defensively, Air Force is ranked 24th in FBS in total defense, giving up an average of 331.3 yards per game. The Falcons have a defensive PPA per play of 0.20 and generate defensive Havoc at a 0.11 rate, which is the worst in the Mountain West and well below the conference average. The Falcons’ inability to create Havoc should allow the Lobos to find success passing the ball.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Nothing about the three words “triple-option offense” ever excites an opposing team. Throw in the words “short week,” and it knows it will have its hands full. Triple-option week, as it is called, is a daunting challenge because of the departure from a normal week’s routine preparation for a game.
Air Force’s bread and butter is running the ball via the triple option, much to the chagrin of opposing teams. It will look to stick with the ground game against the Lobos.
The only problem is the fact New Mexico has a very good run defense and coach familiar with the triple option. The Lobos are only giving up 81 yards per game, having surrendered one rushing touchdown all season. Air Force has the top-ranked rushing offense in FBS, while New Mexico comes into the game with the third-ranked rushing defense in FBS.
Given the strong running matchup, I think this one should be a low-scoring affair.
My model has Air Force as a 7-point favorite, with the total set at 56 points. Personally, I don’t have an edge on the market odds for the spread or over/under.
Air Force averages 25.33 points per game this season, and it hardly looks to throw the ball. The Falcons are facing a capable New Mexico rush defense that has only allowed 243 rushing yards all season. Air Force will chew up a lot of clock with the triple option and should face arduous resistance from the Lobos on the ground.
I think the play here is the Air Force team total under 31.5 points.
Pick: Air Force Team Total Under 31.5 points or better