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2008 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Preview

Houston (7-5, 6-2 C-USA) vs. Air Force (8-4, 5-3 MWC)

December 31st, 2008 @ 12:00 PM (EST) – ESPN – Forth Worth, Texas



The 2008 Armed Forces Bowl features the second military academy that is eligible for a bowl and like their armed brethren at the Naval Academy, Air Force finds itself in a rematch of a regular season contest. Furthermore, the Cougars and Falcons find themselves playing in practically the same location since their regular season contest was played in Dallas because of Hurricane Ike.

Houston ’s season has been an exercise in resiliency. The Cougars started the year with a 1-3 record before rebounding to win 6 of the next seven and were on the cusp of a shot at the C-USA title. However, Houston was beaten by cross-town rival Rice in a shootout in the season finale to end the regular season on a down note. The Cougars’ offense is absolutely ridiculous, featuring sophomore quarterback Case Keenum, who threw for 4,768 yards and 43 Touchdowns this season with only 10 interceptions. Houston averages more than 42 points per game and has only scored less than 40 points once in the season’s final eight games! On defense, Houston isn’t the most stellar unit but when your offense is dominating teams with the pass, opposing teams have more chances to score, which tends to lead to worse statistics for the defenders (look at the Big XII this year).

Air Force also has had a successful season, only losing to the top three teams in the Mountain West and the Naval Academy. They run an option attack and don’t really have any individual players who rack up a lot of yardage like the Cougars. Air Force has been solid defensively this year but allowed over 30 points in each of their losses, the only game which saw that occur. Simply put, Air Force will have to control the clock and stop the Cougars if they want to win this game.

Their first game took place amidst bad weather conditions and was won by Air Force 31-28. The Falcons didn’t complete a pass but ran for 380 yards! Meanwhile, Houston outgained the Falcons by 130 yards but turned the ball over twice and couldn’t make up the deficit. Air Force adjusted better to the wind and rain and held a 31-14 lead going into the final quarter.

I expect the rematch to be very different. First of all, if Houston scores less than 35 points I will be very surprised, considering all the weapons they have on offense. Second, I think Air Force is going to struggle to find an answer to Houston’s aerial assault. The Falcons will look to control the clock by running the football but Houston is so explosive that it will require a monumental effort to shut them down. Unless this game is played in another storm, I think that Case Keenum and his high-flying receivers will put on an air show for the country’s foremost aviation academy and emerge from the Texas Bowl with a solid victory.

Armed Forces Bowl Pick: Houston 41 - Air Force 31

 

by Matt Baxendell
CollegeSports-fans.com Staff Writer

 


 


 

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