Staff Predictions: Air Force
Observer Sports Writers | Thursday, October 6, 2011
You know what’s scary? Air Force might be the best offensive team Notre Dame will face all season — it’s definitely the most difficult to stop. The Falcons execute the triple option just as well as Navy or Georgia Tech, but they throw the ball more effectively than either of those teams. It’ll be pretty clear after about two offensive series if the Irish are up to the task of stopping that juggernaut.
Normally, I’d say Notre Dame fans should cower in fear from this matchup. But this year is different. For once, the defensive line is the best unit on the team. There’s enough athleticism and experience in the defensive front seven to contain the option. If the defense can just slow the Falcons down, the offense can put up enough points to win. It might look scary, but there’s no reason for fear.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 35, Air Force 24
I’ve got nothing. Even my Pandora has failed to deliver inspiration this week. Perhaps that should be expected when going up against an offense unlike any other.
Air Force presents many challenges to Bob Diaco’s defense. If the triple-option run by Navy presented difficulties last year, then Air Force’s seemingly endless variety of options could render the Irish defense as effective as a flock of chickens with all their heads cut off.
Let’s hope it doesn’t get that bad. In fact, it shouldn’t. Primarily because Brian Kelly should rely on his own running game to keep the ball out of the Falcons’ hands until Notre Dame has a comfortable cushion. If Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray can combine for 100 yards or so in the first quarter, the Falcons won’t stand a chance.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 34, Air Force 13
Senior Sports Writer
Coming off a commanding victory over Purdue Saturday, the Irish are primed for a continuation of their winning ways — or for a major letdown. Seeing how Notre Dame reacts after such a big win could set the tone for the rest of the season.
Once again Notre Dame enters the contest against Air Force as the better team, which has not made much of a difference so far this season. But like the Purdue game, the Irish should be superior athletically to the Falcons, which is a good sign for playmakers like Michael Floyd and Cierre Wood.
But Notre Dame’s defense will be the deciding factor in the game. If it can keep Air Force’s offense in check, the Irish offense should have no trouble outscoring the Falcons.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Air Force 20
Associate Sports Editor
Notre Dame soundly defeated Purdue last weekend and now enters a critical three-game stretch in October spread out over four weekends.
Win all three, and the once far-off BCS hopes are still alive heading into the final month.
Many are already looking ahead to the Oct. 22 date with USC, and that’s a mistake. Air Force is an excellent team and runs the same triple option that has given the Irish fits in the past.
Irish coach Brian Kelly won’t let his squad look past the Falcons, but still expect a close match between two talented teams. Both running games will have big days Saturday, but it will be Notre Dame who finishes on top by a field goal.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 28, Air Force 25
Assistant Managing Editor
Army used to be a football powerhouse and has three national championships to its name. Navy has 19 players in the College Football Hall of Fame. Air Force, not so much.
The academies were once on par with the nation’s best, but since have been relegated to college football mediocrity. But this Falcons team is good. They may not be better than Notre Dame, but they have something the Irish lack: chicanery. Running a triple-option attack is one thing, but coupling that with a precise aerial attack is another matter completely. Just watch some highlights of the Falcons offense this season — receivers just aren’t supposed to be that open. But Notre Dame has something Air Force lacks: a defense hitting its stride. And Michael Floyd.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 37, Air Force 10