NCAA Football: Utah State Aggies vs. Air Force Falcons Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Sept. 18, 2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sept. 18, 2021
Venue: Falcon Stadium, USAF Academy, CO
Where to watch: FS2

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Air Force -7.5; O/U 53.5; Air Force -320, Utah State +250
BetMGM: Air Force -8; O/U 53.5; Air Force -345, Utah State +270
Caesars: Air Force -8; O/U 54; Air Force -330, Utah State +260

Season record
Utah State: 2-0
Air Force: 2-0

The opening of the 2021 football season marked Larry Ness’ 38th year as a professional handicapper. He's off to a solid start, going 15-9 with all CFB and NFL regular season releases. "The winning continues" on Saturday with Larry's 10* Group of 5 Game of the Month. Catch Larry’s and other plays available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.

Utah State - Air Force preview and analysis


Recent form
Utah State: won 48-24 vs. North Dakota on Sept. 11
Air Force: won 23-3 at Navy on Sept. 11

The triple-option has never looked better for the Air Force Falcons, and that’s a great sign for the Academy heading into Mountain West Conference play.

Air Force will open its conference slate at home against the Utah State Aggies with both teams entering 2-0 with a home game at the Academy in Colorado.

After what was a lackluster 35-14 win in the opener against Lafayette, the Falcons responded in Week 2 with a 23-3 win against the Navy Midshipmen. It was the second straight year Air Force took it to Navy, having won last year at hom3 40-7.

The lopsidedness of this game was evident in the numbers. Air Force outgained Navy 225-68, needing only 49 passing yards from quarterback Haaziq Daniels. I know Air Force has never been known for its passing of the football, but offense and touchdowns are supposed to be things to admire in the world of college football. That didn’t exist with these teams.

Instead, the Falcons defense dominated Navy from the get-go and has averaged a grand total of 8.5 points per game through two contests.

And while Utah State is also a feel-good story in the Mountain West, asking the Aggies to go into Colorado Springs and win this matchup will be a tall task. The Aggies are coming off a 24-point win at home against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

Utah State had to rally, however, from down 21-7 and outscore UND 41-3 in the final 45 minutes of the game. USU got a huge 390-yard, four-touchdown performance from Logan Bonner; three of those scores came from 40 yards or more. That passing, along with a Utah State run game that’s averaging 220 yards per contest, and Aggies games are once again no walk in the park.

But still, nothing can be more intimidating than a good Air Force team at home, in that elevation and with a strong defense. This will be the first true task for either of these teams and when in doubt, take the home team.

Prediction


The last two meetings have seen Air Force outscore Utah State 66-14 and a combined 782 yards on the ground. This has the makings of the Aggies trying to air it out a little more, and if it comes down to it, sometimes mistakes are made in the altitude. Air Force by 8

Betting trends


Utah State is 4-8 as an underdog against the spread in the past 12 games.

Air Force is 15-31 against the spread after two or more consecutive unders in its last 46.

Players to watch


Utah State: It might be too early to consider Deven Thompkins as a contender for the Biletnikoff Award, but it’d be hard to keep him off the watch list so long as he keeps this production up. The senior from Fort Myers, Florida had eight receptions for 172 yards and a touchdown against North Dakota. That’s one week removed from catching the game-winning touchdown pass against Washington State in Week 1.

Air Force: Someone has to run the ball at Air Force, and that’s been running back Brad Roberts. He’s coming off a 97-yard, two-touchdown effort against Navy. Roberts’ longest carry was 11 yards, but rest assured he doesn’t get tired and is a workhorse.

Statistical leaders


Utah State:
Passing: Logan Bonner -- 533 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Calvin Tyler Jr. -- 156 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Deven Thompkins -- 266 yards, 2 TD
Defense: Jaylin Bannerman -- 2 sacks

Air Force:
Passing: Haaziq Daniels -- 99 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Brad Roberts -- 208 yards, 2 TD; Haaziq Daniels -- 123 yards, 4 TD
Receiving: Micah Davis -- 54 yards
Defense: Demonte Meeks -- 13 tackles, 2.5 sacks

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert football picks today. And if you enjoyed this Utah State - Air Force prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily NCAA projections and previews.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2021 Al McMordie's BigAl.com. All Rights Reserved.