Air Force-San Diego State Bet to Watch: Finding Value in the Over/Under

Air Force-San Diego State Bet to Watch: Finding Value in the Over/Under article feature image

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Air Force Falcons defensive back Kyle Floyd

Air Force at San Diego State Betting Odds, Pick

  • Odds: San Diego State -10.5
  • Over/Under: 44
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET, Friday

Both of these teams come off big wins for their respective programs, as Air Force defeated fellow service academy Navy last week, while San Diego State pulled off a huge road upset over Boise State.

You could make an argument that both teams might come out a little flat after two big wins. Air Force has certainly done this in the past, going just 2-15 ATS (11.8%) in its last 17 games after facing either Army or Navy. However, Air Force could come out energized to stop a team that has beaten the Falcons seven straight times.

I ultimately think the spread looks spot on and have instead focused in on the over/under.

>> All odds as of 9 a.m. ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.

Key Matchup: San Diego State Rush Defense vs. Air Force

If you didn’t see what the Aztec defense did to Boise on the road last week, go check out the box score and focus on the yards-per-play summary. SDSU held Boise to just 229 yards on 80 plays for a staggering 2.86 yards per play. It was an absolutely dominant effort en route to a 19-13 win.

The San Diego State rush defense was even more impressive in that victory, holding Boise State running back Alex Mattison to just 66 yards on 25 carries. That wasn’t anything new for an Aztec defense that has shut down rushing offenses all season long.

In fact, San Diego State ranks second in the nation at a minuscule 1.96 yards per carry. And it’s not like the Aztecs haven’t faced a tough schedule, as they have played Arizona State, Stanford and Boise State so far. Per S&P+, SDSU ranks in the top 10 nationally in defending both rushing efficiency (third) and explosiveness (eighth).

That strength will come in handy against this Air Force option attack. Not surprisingly, the Falcons run the ball at a top-5 clip nationally on both Standard Downs and Passing Downs, per Football Study Hall. Do not expect the Air Force offense to do much of anything tonight against head coach Rocky Long’s bunch that has seen the option frequently both in and out of conference in recent years.

Bet to Watch for San Diego State-Air Force

I mentioned the great matchup for San Diego State’s elite rush defense against an Air Force team that runs as much as anybody in the country. Well, the same applies on the other side of the ball.

Air Force comes off a game where it completely shut down Navy’s usually vaunted rushing attack. The Falcons held the Midshipmen to just 129 yards on 41 carries (3.1 average), which also wasn’t too surprising based on what they’ve done all season.

Air Force has held opponents to just 3.3 yards per rush this season, which is tied for 24th nationally — and the Falcons rank fourth in defending Rushing Efficiency.

And just like Air Force, San Diego State is a run-first offense, ranking sixth in the country in run rate on Standard Downs, per S&P+. The Aztecs also play very slowly, as they sit outside the top-100 in Adjusted Pace.

The Air Force passing defense is horrifying, but San Diego State doesn’t have the offense to exploit that deficiency — especially with all of the Aztecs’ injuries. Already down their starting quarterback (Christian Chapman) and running back (Juwan Washington), they have also ruled out leading receiver Ethan Dedeaux and starting fullback Isaac Lessard for tonight. It’s also worth mentioning that backup running back Chase Jasmin is dealing with a hamstring issue, although he will suit up.

If you’re curious, these two teams did combine for 52 points last season, but 29 came in the fourth quarter.

In summary, we have two teams that run at a top-10 rate on Standard Downs and have defenses that excel at shutting down opposing rushing attacks. Points should be at a premium in San Diego without complete flukes.

Expect the clock to be moving quickly throughout as both of these offenses try to grind out drives. If you like punting, tune into CBS Sports Network tonight at 9 p.m. ET.

The Play: Under 44