San Diego State Aztecs vs. Air Force Falcons Picks and Game Preview - 10/23/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Falcon Stadium, USAF Academy, CO
Where to watch: CBS Sports Network

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Air Force -3
BetMGM: Air Force -3.5
Caesars: Air Force -3.5

Season record
No. 22 San Diego State: 6-0 (2-0 Mountain West)
Air Force: 6-1 (3-1 Mountain West)

San Diego State - Air Force preview and analysis

Last week
San Diego State: won 19-13 (2OT) at San Jose State on Oct. 15
Air Force: won 24-17 at Boise State on Oct. 16

If you’ve been craving for an actually good defensive battle in college football, the Mountain West may have the best one for you. And I’m not talking about that clunker the San Diego State Aztecs were involved in last week.

But that same overtime victory over the San Jose State Spartans is the reason why the Aztecs will lose Saturday to the Air Force Falcons and establish a new top dog in the Mountain West Conference.

Yes, the Aztecs have won 10 straight against Air Force and are 8-2 against the spread in those games. Yes, the Aztecs have a strong defense that has propelled them to a top-25 ranking.

But the one thing we’ve learned over the course of the last month is to not trust opponents going into Air Force’s stadium. The Falcons are another beast playing at home, combining that altitude at the Academy on a cold October afternoon with a defense that loves to hit.

Air Force allows 288 yards per game with a stellar pass rush led by Vince Sanford, while holding rushing attacks to below 100 yards per game. San Diego State makes its money on the ground game with 215.3 yards per contest, led by Greg Bell (5.0 yards per carry) and Jordan Byrd (8.7).

The San Diego State offense is going to run into major trouble of quarterback Jordon Brookshire doesn’t become the reason why they win this game. It’s not an offense that can be relied upon to win games through the air. Last week against San Jose State, the Aztecs gained only 240 total yards with 50 of them coming in overtime.

Air Force’s option attack has been explosive and has worn down some really talented defenses like Boise State and New Mexico. Since their 49-45 loss to the Utah State Aggies a month ago, the Falcons have not allowed more than 20 points in their last four games.

The Falcons have averaged 343 rushing yards during this four-game winning streak. It’s not like Air Force is going to rely on quarterback Haaziq Daniels to win a game through the air, but he’s been capable of some big throws from time to time. Case in point: Last week against Boise State, he had only one completion, but it was for 59 yards. No touchdowns, no interceptions, all while running for 83 yards and a touchdown.


Some teams can handle the altitude better than most. Utah State proved that to be the case considering Logan is pretty high up. San Diego State has not faced a test like this, and a win would go a long way for the rest of its season. But Air Force is too tough with that defense and that option attack. It’ll be a close game, but enough for Air Force to cover and get its most impressive win of the season. Air Force by 6

Betting trends

San Diego State is 29-76 straight up as a road dog since 1992.

The under is 56-25 in San Diego State’s last 81 October games.

San Diego State is 10-3 ATS after forcing a turnover the previous game.

Air Force is 10-1 SU as a home favorite the last three seasons.

The Falcons are 15-32 ATS in their last 47 off two straight unders.

Statistical leaders

San Diego State:
Passing: Jordon Brookshire -- 521 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Greg Bell -- 561 yards, 5 TD
Receiving: Daniel Bellinger -- 197 yards, 1 TD
Defense: Two tied -- 3.5 sacks
Air Force:
Passing: Haaziq Daniels -- 553 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Brad Roberts -- 818 yards, 8 TD
Receiving: Micah Davis -- 221 yards, 2 TD
Defense: Vince Sanford -- 6.5 sacks

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert football picks today. And if you enjoyed this San Diego 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.

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