College Football Odds & Picks for Air Force vs. Utah State: Bet the Triple Option to Run All Over Aggies
Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Donald Hammond III (left) and Geraud Sanders (right).
- Utah State has struggled mightily this season, and Air Force's triple option will look to take advantage on Thursday night.
- The Falcons' triple option has been firing on all cylinders recently, leaving a weak Utah State defense helpless to defend it.
- BJ Cunningham breaks down the matchup and shares a betting pick based on his analysis below.
Air Force vs. Utah State Odds
|Air Force Odds||-11.5 [BET NOW]|
|Utah State Odds||+11.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-435 / +330 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||51 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||CBS Sports Network|
Air Force heads to Logan, Utah, on Thursday night to battle Utah State.
The Falcons’ season has been ravaged by COVID-19, as they’ve had three of their past four games canceled or postponed. However, when they have been playing, they’ve taken care of lesser competition but haven’t been able to hang with the Mountain West’s elite teams.
Utah State is at the bottom of the Mountain West with only one win on the season. However, that win came last week on Thanksgiving, as it took down New Mexico, 41-27. The Aggies will look to make it two in a row on Thursday, as they try to finish their season strong.
Air Force Falcons
When the Falcons have been in action, the triple option has been firing on all cylinders. Air Force is top-10 in all of college football in Offensive Success Rate, Rushing Success Rate, and Offensive Line Yards, per College Football Data. It’s also gaining a whopping 6.0 yards per play and 5.8 yards per rush attempt and will have a fantastic opportunity against Utah State’s defense.
The Falcons are led by sophomore running back Brad Roberts, who is gaining a ridiculous 7.4 yards per attempt. In fact, Air Force’s top six rushers are all averaging over 5.0 yards per carry. In this matchup last season, Air Force routed Utah State, 31-7, and gained 448 yards on the ground. Utah State’s defense hasn’t improved, so it’s hard to imagine the triple option will be slowing down any time soon.
The biggest strength of the Falcons’ defense is the fact they don’t allow explosive plays. Air Force ranks 11th in defensive explosiveness and second in rushing explosiveness allowed, per College Football Data.
They returned most of their starters on the front seven, which has translated to allowing only 3.6 yards per carry. That should come in handy against the Aggies, who have struggled to run the ball this season.
The Falcons broke in three new starters in their secondary, and so far, that has been their Achilles heel. They’ve allowed 8.1 yards per pass attempt and rank 93rd in Defensive Passing Success.
However, one of the strengths of the triple option is it allows the defense to get more rest. Air Force is currently third in the country in defensive plays per game at 57.8. Given how good its matchup is on offense, I expect the Falcon defense to not be needed often on Thursday night.
Utah State Aggies
Outside of the 41-point outburst against a lowly New Mexico squad, things have been terrible for the Aggies on the offensive side of the ball. Utah State has struggled with both the run and the pass, and it’s in the bottom 25 of college football in Success Rate for both.
The strength of Utah State’s offense, though, is the rushing attack. The Aggies are gaining 4.4 yards per carry, which ranks in the top half of college football. They are also the 17th-ranked team in terms of rushing explosiveness. However, that’s the strength of the Air Force defense, so the Aggies have a tough matchup on Thursday night.
Utah State’s passing attack is one of the worst in all of college football. The Aggies made a change last week, switching to sophomore quarterback Andrew Peasley, who lit up the New Mexico defense for three touchdowns. However, the Lobos have one of the worst defenses in the nation.
The Aggies have really struggled on defense, as they rank 99th in Defensive Success Rate, per College Football Data. They have also allowed 6.2 yards per play, which third-to-last in the Mountain West. The good news is most of their issues have come against the pass, allowing 7.9 yards per attempt. But luckily for the Aggies, they won’t have to worry about that much going up against the triple option.
However, Utah State hasn’t been much better against the run, allowing 5.1 yards per attempt. That has led to a bottom-40 ranking in Defensive Line Yards, Rushing Success Allowed, and rushing explosiveness allowed. That’s going to be a problem against the triple-option.
Betting Analysis & Pick
With how good the triple option has been and how bad Utah State’s defense has been against the run, I don’t see anything other than the Falcons rushing for 350-plus yards on Thursday.
I have Air Force projected as -21.95 favorites on the road, so I think there’s plenty of value on Falcons to cover -11.5.
Pick: Air Force -11.5 (up to -17.5).