College Football Odds, Picks for Air Force vs. Sam Houston
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: KC Keeler (Sam Houston)
Air Force vs. Sam Houston Odds
If you're looking for the most unique matchup on the college football slate for Week 2, look no further than this neutral site contest between Air Force and Sam Houston.
Air Force will bring its triple-option offense to NRG Stadium in Houston to face off against a Sam Houston team still getting its feet wet in the FBS ranks.
To determine which team will take advantage of this unique opportunity, let's take a look at the odds and make a pick for the Air Force vs. Sam Houston.
Troy Calhoun, in his 13th year at Air Force, has really begun to hit his stride. The Falcons have posted double-digit wins in three of their last four seasons behind a patented Service Academy triple-option offensive attack.
However, what stands out about this year’s Air Force unit is the talent and experience it brings to the table on defense. Second-year defensive coordinator Brian Knorr brings back eight starters, resulting in the Falcons being ranked ninth nationally in net TARP on defense.
Having this many returnees from a season ago will have a major impact, as the Falcons ranked inside the top 45 in Success Rate, Explosiveness and Havoc defensively in 2022.
This defensive prowess was proven in Week 1 against FCS Robert Morris, as the Falcons held the Colonials to just 165 yards of total offense.
On the other side of the ball, Air Force’s triple-option offense — which is defined by its rushing attack — was able to amass 362 yards on the ground due in large part to an offensive line that returns six players with starting experience.
Overall, this is an experienced Air Force team that's solidified in its identity on both sides of the ball.
The Bearkats had quite the introduction to the FBS level in Week 1, as they were shut out at BYU. Although the Bearkats failed to get on the board, they were still able to stay within the number by holding the Cougars to just 145 yards passing.
This defensive success is not overly surprising for a Bearkats unit that returns nine starters, including four of their top five tacklers. Even with notable experience, Sam Houston’s step up to the FBS level will be felt most notably in the trenches.
Against BYU, Sam Houston’s front seven created Havoc on just 4.6% of plays. This lack of penetration up-front will be exposed early and often by an Air Force offense built on establishing the run.
This inability to stop the run will result in long and methodical drives by the Air Force offense, which ranks third nationally in seconds per play.
In addition to these limited possessions, I look for Sam Houston’s offense — which posted an Explosiveness ranking of just .83 in Week 1 — to continue to struggle to find the end zone against an Air Force defense with a plethora of experience.
Air Force vs Sam Houston
Betting Pick & Prediction
There's no question that this matchup between Air Force’s methodical triple-option offense and a Sam Houston offense that failed to score in Week 1 will be a slugfest.
To make matters worse for the Bearkats, Air Force has returning production all over its defense that will make QB Keegan Shoemaker’s life immensely difficult.
Additionally, the Bearkats will struggle to even maintain possession, as Air Force will look to dominate the clock against a Sam Houston defensive front-seven still adjusting to the FBS level.
My initial lean on this unique matchup was laying the points with Sam Houston again in Week 2, given the pace of play at which Air Force will want this game to be played.
However, this number has been steamed down to under two touchdowns, and as a result, I see a different angle that provides more value.
The biggest mismatch in this game comes between the Sam Houston offense and the Air Force defense. Given this, I will gladly take the Bearkats team total under 10.5, as I believe possessions will be few and far between for what is a struggling offense.
Make sure to shop around for the best number as there are some 12.5’s out there in the market.