College Football Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Western Michigan Broncos vs Air Force Falcons

2014 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Western Michigan Broncos vs Air Force Falcons
Bronco Stadium – Boise, Idaho
Saturday, December 20, 2014, 5:45 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Western Michigan -2
Current Line: Western Michigan -1
Opening Total: 56 1/2
Current Total: 58
Opening Money Line: Western Michigan -114 / Air Force -106
Current Money Line: Western Michigan -110 / Air Force -110

Western Michigan is a slight favorite over Air Force in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Western Michigan is a slight favorite over Air Force in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Last year, the Western Michigan Broncos and Air Force Falcons combined for 3 wins. This year they combined for 17 wins and will meet in Saturday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise. Western Michigan is 8-4 and finished in third place in the MAC West with a 6-2 conference record. Air Force is 9-3 and finished in fourth place in the Mountain West Mountain Division with a 5-3 record. This is the first meeting between Western Michigan and Air Force.

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Western Michigan is coached by P.J. Fleck. The Broncos are 0-5 all time in bowl games. They are making their first appearance in a bowl game since a 37-32 loss to Purdue in the 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Western Michigan has never played in the Boise bowl game.

Western Michigan has road losses at Purdue 43-34 and Virginia Tech 35-17 along with home losses to Toledo 20-19 in overtime and Northern Illinois 31-21 in the last game of the regular season. The NIU loss snapped a six game winning streak for the Broncos. WMU has home wins over Murray State 45-14, Ohio 42-21, and Eastern Michigan 51-7, along with road wins at Idaho 45-33, Ball State 42-38, Bowling Green 26-14, Miami-(OH) 41-10, and Central Michigan 32-20. The Broncos are 10-2 ATS and the total is 7-5 this season. WMU was an 8 point favorite against Northern Illinois and the total was 58.5.

Air Force is coached by Troy Calhoun. The Falcons are 10-11-1 all-time in bowl games. Air Force missed out on a bowl game last year after playing in 6 straight bowl games before that. The Falcons went 2-4 in those games including a 33-14 loss to Rice in the 2012 Armed Forces Bowl.

Air Force has road losses at Wyoming 17-13, Utah State 34-16, and San Diego State 30-14. The Falcons have won 5 of their last 6 games. Air Force has home wins over Nicholls State 44-16, Boise State 28-14, Navy 30-21, New Mexico 35-31, Nevada 45-38 in overtime and Colorado State 27-24 in the last game of the regular season, along with road wins at Georgia State 48-38, Army 23-6, and UNLV 48-21. Air Force won the Commander-In-Chief’s trophy by beating service academy rivals Navy and Army. The Falcons are 7-5 ATS and the total is 4-8 this season. Air Force was a 7.5 point underdog against Colorado State and the total was 61.5.

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Western Michigan is outscoring teams 35-24. The Broncos are in the top 40 nationally in both categories.  Western Michigan averages 443 yards per game on offense including 265 passing and 179 rushing yards. The Broncos are #52 or better in all three categories. On defense, WMU is allowing 370 yards per game including 228 passing and 143 rushing yards. The Broncos are #68 or better in all three categories. WMU is +3 in turnovers with 22 takeaways. The Broncos average 50 penalty yards per game and opponents average 48. WMU is 83/174 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 82/194. The Broncos have forced 28 sacks and allowed 20 this season. WMU is 44/50 scoring in the red zone with 32 touchdowns and opponents are 30/42 with 22 touchdowns. The Broncos have a pick six and a kick return for a touchdown, and have allowed 2 defensive touchdowns this season.

Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell has completed 70% of his passes for 3,146 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with 67 carries for 203 yards  and 3 touchdowns. Running back Jarvion Franklin has 294 carries for 1,525 yards with 24 touchdowns, along with 15 catches for 168 yards and a touchdown. Dareyon Chance has 68 carries for 320 yards and a touchdown, along with 5 catches. Receiver Corey Davis has 70 catches for  1,232 yards and 12 touchdowns. Daniel Braverman has 79 catches for 912 yards with 6 touchdowns, plus 66 rushing yards and a touchdown. Darius Phillips has 29 catches for 451 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 38 rushing yards and a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Air Force is outscoring teams 31-24 this season. The Falcons are  #53 or better in both categories. Air Force averages 424 yards per game including 151 passing and 272 rushing yards. The Falcons are #8 in rushing and #118 out of 128 FBS teams in passing. On defense, Air Force allows 398 total yards per game including 256 passing and 142 rushing yards per game. The Falcons are #36 in rush defense but #101 in pass defense. Air Force is +1 in turnovers with 16 takeaways. The Falcons average 37 penalty yards per game and opponents average 41. Air Force is 102/203 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 73/193. The Falcons have forced 29 sacks and allowed 10 this season. Air Force is 46/52 scoring in the red zone with 33 touchdowns and opponents are 30/38 with 20 touchdowns. The Falcons have allowed 2 defensive touchdowns this season.

Air Force quarterback Kale Pearson has completed 59.3% of his passes for 1,513 yards with 14 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 157 carries for 646 yards with 6 touchdowns. He is listed as questionable for undisclosed reasons. If Pearson can’t go, then Nate Romine will start at quarterback. Romine has thrown for 208 yards with an interception, and has rushed for 94 yards on 35 carries with a touchdown.

Running back Jacobi Owens has 204 carries for 1.054 yards with 5 touchdowns, along with 4 catches. He is questionable with a foot injury. Shayne Devern has 99 carries for 412 yards and 6 touchdowns. Devin Rushing has 63 carries for 329 yards and 2 touchdowns. D.J. Johnson has 61 carries for 247 yards and 7 touchdowns. Receiver Jalen Robinette has 41 catches for 763 yards and 4 touchdowns, and also threw a touchdown pass. Garrett Brown has 34 catches for 509 yards and 6 touchdowns. Garrett Griffin has 16 catches for 307 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Western Michigan is 4-0 ATS after a straight up loss, 10-1 overall and on fieldturf, 4-1 against teams with winning records, 3-7 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, and 2-6 after rushing for less than 100 yards.

Air Force is 5-1 ATS after rushing for 200 yards or more, 4-1 in non-conference games, overall, and after allowing 280 passing yards or more, 5-2 after a straight up win, 3-7 against teams with winning records, 3-9 after a cover, and 3-11 after allowing 450 total yards or more.

If Air Force is without both Pearson and Owens, then they will be in trouble without their top two rushers. Western Michigan is healthy and I think they win a close game.

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