College Football Odds & Picks for Colorado State vs. Air Force: Bet the Rams to Cover on Thanksgiving
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images. Pictured: Dante Wright.
Editors Note: Thursday’s Colorado State vs. Air Force game has been canceled due to the Rams program’s internal issues with COVID-19. We have elected to publish Collin Wilson’s betting guide for the matchup nonetheless — for the sake of transparency, to deliver you more betting analysis to serve your long-term needs, and in case Air Force reschedules with an alternate opponent for Week 13.
Colorado State vs. Air Force
Colorado State Rams
Minutes into head coach Steve Addazio’s preview of upcoming opponent UNLV, the game was canceled. While Colorado State was open to playing another opponent, the Rams ultimately received extra preparation time for Air Force. After a complete breakdown against Boise State, it’s safe to say Addazio gave the special teams attention after two punt block touchdowns for the Broncos.
𝙏𝙃𝙍𝙀𝙀, that's right 𝙏𝙃𝙍𝙀𝙀 blocked kicks turned into TDs for @BroncoSportsFB in the first half to pave the way for Boise State's victory
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) November 13, 2020
Despite an ugly final score against Boise State, the Rams saw positives in the advanced statistics. The Broncos did not record a single explosive drive and were stuffed on 15-of-34 rushing attempts. Colorado State ranks as one of the best run stuff units in the country with a top-15 rank in Stuff Rate and Line Yards on defense. The Rams are top-25 in defensive Havoc, with a large portion coming from the tackles for loss, which sit at 31 in just 226 snaps.
The Colorado State offense is where the troubles begin. Addazio swapped quarterbacks Patrick O’Brien and Temple transfer Todd Centeio throughout the season, with the former giving the Rams a better chance at explosive plays. O’Brien has found little when blitzed, dropping from 76% to 50% in adjusted completion percentage in pressured dropbacks. Opponents with a defensive front seven that can harass quarterbacks will wreak havoc against Colorado State.
Air Force Falcons
Mesmerizing may be the only adjective to describe a shutout of New Mexico, which missed four field goals. In six total trips past the Falcons’ 40-yard line, the Lobos failed to put points on the board in each attempt.
Air Force, meanwhile, tallied a 72% Success Rate in standard downs, averaging 5.7 yards per rushing attempt.
The Falcons stand at 2-2 on the season but must turn around in a short week to host Colorado State. The strength of Troy Calhoun’s team is the triple option, with an 85% rush rate and a Line Yards rank of fifth in the nation. Air Force also ranks fifth in the nation in Rushing Success Rate and owns a top-20 mark in Finishing Drives.
The defensive side of the ball has not lived up to previous Air Force squads. The Falcons are 94th in Sack Rate, 120th in Havoc and have a Pro Football Focus coverage grade that ranks 62nd. Both San Jose State and Boise State had success in the air, with a combination of 11 players hauling in passes over 10 yards.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The Ram-Falcon Trophy will be at stake in its 41st year of existence, as Air Force has taken a 25-15 series lead in that time. If the time slot on Thanksgiving is strange, these are the exact two teams that played in the early afternoon on Turkey Day in 2018. Air Force is 1-2 all-time on Thanksgiving Day, and it will be a quick turnaround for one of the slowest teams in the nation.
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The handicap in this game comes down to Colorado State’s ability to get the passing game back on track while stopping the Air Force rush. The numbers suggest the Rams can defend the triple option, as they boast a top-20 rank in Line Yards and Stuff Rate. Linebacker Dequan Jackson and defensive tackle Manny Jones lead the team in defensive stops and will have a huge part in keeping the triple option from gaining chunk yards.
Will O’Brien have a clean look at Colorado State’s deep targets? Air Force has graded poorly in coverage and has one of the worst adjusted Sack Rates in the nation. No defender for Air Force has more than two sacks on the season, as the team has a grand total of seven through four games. With time in the pocket, look for O’Brien to make plays to get a Rams ticket to the window.
Pick: Colorado State +5.5 or better.