Armed Forces Bowl Betting Preview: Air Force Falcons vs Rice Owls

2012 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Saturday, December 29, 2012, 11:45 am Eastern, TV: ESPN
Air Force Falcons vs Rice Owls
Amon G. Carter Stadium – Fort Worth, Texas
Opening Line: Pick
Current Line: Air Force -3
Opening Total: 60 1/2
Current Total: 61 1/2
Opening Money Line: Air Force -130 / Rice +110
Current Money Line: Air Force -155 / Rice +135

Air Force is a 2.5 point favorite against Rice in the Armed Forces Bowl Saturday in Forth Worth. Both teams are 6-6 this season.

The 6-6 Air Force Falcons and 6-6 Rice Owls meet Saturday in the Armed Forces Bowl. The two teams haven’t played each other since they were both in the WAC in 1998. Air Force leads the series 5-1.

Air Force is 10-11-1 all-time in bowl games. The Falcons are playing in their sixth straight bowl game. Including this game, 4 of the six have been in this bowl. Last year Air Force lost to Toledo 42-41 in the Military Bowl. Rice is 5-4 all-time in Bowl games. The Owls beat Western Michigan 38-14 in the the 2008 Texas Bowl in their last bowl appearance.

Air Force was 5-3 in the Mountain West under coach Troy Calhoun. The Falcons have road losses at Michigan 31-25,  UNLV 38-35,  Army 41-21 and Fresno St 48-15 to close out the regular season,  along with a home loss to Navy 28-21 in overtime. The Falcons have lost three of their last four games. Air Force has home wins over Idaho St 49-21, Colorado St 42-21, New Mexico 28-23, Nevada 48-31 and Hawaii 21-7 along with a 28-27 win at Wyoming. The Falcons are 3-9 ATS and the total is 4-7 this season.

Air Force is averaging 436.4 yards per game on offense, including 107.2 passing and 329.2 rushing yards. The Falcons are #2 nationally in rushing and #122 out of 124 teams in passing as you might expect from a team that runs a triple option offense. Air Force is being outscored 28.7-28.5 this season. The Falcons are -13 in turnovers with 26 giveaways. Air Force has allowed 7 sacks and averages 25 penalty yards per game. The Falcons are 112/216 on third and fourth down conversions, and 37/50 scoring in the red zone with 33 touchdowns. On defense, Air Force is allowing 401.6 yards per game including 203.6 passing yards and 198 rushing yards. The Falcons are #100 in rushing defense nationally and #28 in pass defense.. Air Force has forced 15 sacks and 13 turnovers this season. Falcon opponents are 99/204 on third and fourth down conversions and 42/47 scoring in the red zone with 32 touchdowns.

Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz has completed 67 of 108 passes (62.0%) for 1,127 yards with 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 191 carries, 1,213 yards and 9 touchdowns. Receiver Drew Coleman has 14 catches, 326 yards and 3 touchdowns. Dontae Strickland has 12 catches, 232 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 27 carries, 147 yards and 2 touchdowns. He even threw a 54 yard touchdown pass in his only attempt of the year. Marcus Hendricks has only 6 catches, but two of them went for touchdowns.

Running back Cody Getz has 191 carries, 1,213 yards, and 9 touchdowns. Jon Lee has 87 carries, 543 yards and 4 touchdowns. Wes Cobb has 118 carries, 491 yards and 8 touchdowns. Ty MacArthur has 48 carries, 419 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He is also the leading receiver with 24 catches, 411 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Mike DeWitt has 57 carries, 223 carries, and 3 touchdowns. Broam Hart is questionable with a hand injury. He has 100 rushing yards and a touchdown. Five other Falcons are on the injury report including 3 defensive players and 2 offensive linemen.

Rice was 4-4 in Conference USA under coach David Bailiff. After a 2-6 start, Rice won their last 4 games to become bowl eligible. The Owls have home losses to UCLA 49-24, Marshall 54-51 in overtime, and Houston 35-14 (at Reliant Stadium), along with road losses at Louisiana Tech 56-37, Memphis 14-10, and Tulsa 28-24. Rice has home wins over UTSA 34-14, Southern Miss 44-17, and SMU 36-14, along with road wins at Kansas 25-24, Tulane 49-47, and UTEP 33-24 to close out the regular season. Rice is 7-4-1 ATS and the total is 6-6 this season.

Rice is averaging 421.1 yards per game, including 219.8 passing yards and 201.2 rushing yards. The Owls are outscoring teams 31.8-31.3 this season. Rice is +5 in turnovers with 19 giveaways. The Owls average 52 penalty yards per game and have allowed 30 sacks this season. Rice is 101/215 on third and fourth down conversions, and 41/48 scoring in the red zone with 29 touchdowns. On defense, the Owls are allowing 443.6 yards per game including 250.8 passing and 192.8 rushing yards. Rice is 84th or worse in all defensive categories. The Owls have forced 24 turnovers and 26 sacks this season. Rice opponents are 70/170 on third and fourth down conversions and 37/45 scoring in the red zone with 32 touchdowns. Rice has 5 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue has completed 188 of 317 passes (59.3%) for 2,178 yards with 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 154 carries, 628 yards and 11 touchdowns. Back-up quarterback Driphus Jackson started the Houston game when McHargue was out with an injury. Jackson has also taken some snaps in a few other games. Jackson has 408 passing yards, 4 touchdown passes, and a rushing touchdown.

Running back Charles Ross has 131 carries, 743 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 9 catches, 94 yards and a touchdown. Turner Peterson has 119 carries, 510 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 11 catches, 155 yards and a touchdown. Jeremy Eddington has 44 carries, 200 yards and a touchdown, along with a kick return for a touchdown. Luke Turner has 34 carries, 143 yards and 2 touchdowns, and even threw a touchdown pass.

Receiver Jordan Taylor has 48 catches, 673 yards and no touchdowns. Sam McGuffie has 49 catches, 523 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also has a punt return for a touchdown. Vance McDonald has 35 catches, 433 yards and 2 touchdowns. Donte Moore has 24 catches, 304 yards and 4 touchdowns. Seven Rice defensive players are out for the season.

Rice is 13-2-1 after rushing for more than 200 yards, 5-1 after a straight up win, and overall, 4-1-1 after a cover, 5-2 after gaining more than 450 yards, and 0-4 on grass.

Air Force is 4-1 ATS in neutral site games, 7-3 against Conference USA teams, 2-5 in non-conference games, 6-15 after allowing more than 280 passing yards, 1-4 after a straight up loss, and on grass, 1-5 after failing to cover, 1-6 after rushing for more more than 200 yards, and passing for less than 170 yards, 1-8 after allowing 40 points or more, 0-4 after a straight up loss of 20 points or more, after allowing more than 450 total yards, and overall.

Expect lots of points as each of these teams have great offenses, especially in the rushing game. Neither team can stop the run either. Even though Rice has won 4 straight games, and Air Force lost 3 of 4 down the stretch, I still like the Falcons to win a close shootout. Air Force had played 10 straight games without a bye so three weeks off will do them a world of good.

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