College Football Armed Forces Bowl Betting Preview: Air Force Falcons vs California Golden Bears

2015 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Air Force Falcons vs California Golden Bears
Amon G. Carter Stadium – Fort Worth, Texas
Tuesday, December 29, 2015, 2:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: California -6
Current Line: California -7 (-105)
Opening Total: 63
Current Total: 68
Opening Money Line: Cal -250 / Air Force +210
Current Money Line: Cal -280 / Air Force +240

Cal is favored over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl Tuesday in Fort Worth.
Cal is favored over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl Tuesday in Fort Worth.

The 7-5 California Golden Bears take on the 8-5 Air Force Falcons in the Armed Forces Bowl Tuesday in Fort Worth, Texas. California leads the series 6-2. The teams last played against each other in this same bowl in 2007 with Cal claiming a 42-36 win.

Air Force went 6-2 in the Mountain West Mountain Division. The Falcons won the division title outright but lost 27-24 to San Diego State in the MWC Championship game in San Diego. Air Force is 11-12-1 in bowl games, including 1-3 in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Falcons are playing in a bowl for the eighth time in the last nine seasons. Air Force beat Western Michigan 38-24 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl last year in Boise.

California finished tied for fourth in the Pac 12 North at 4-5. Cal is 10-10-1 all-time in bowls, including 1-0 in this game. The Golden Bears return to a bowl for the first time since the 2011 season when they beat Texas 21-10 in the Holiday Bowl.

Air Force is coached by Troy Calhoun. The Falcons have road losses at Michigan State 35-21, Navy 33-11, Colorado State 38-23, New Mexico 47-35 and San Diego State 27-24 in the MWC Championship. Air Force has lost two straight games after a five game losing streak. The Falcons have home wins over Morgan State 63-7, San Jose State 37-16, Wyoming 31-17, Fresno State 42-14, Army 20-3, abd Utah State 35-28, plus road wins at Hawaii 58-7 and Boise State 37-30.

Air Force was a 3.5 point underdog against San Diego State and the total was 46.5. The game was back and forth and neither led by more than 7 points. The score was tied at 10 at halftime and 17 at the end of the third. The teams traded touchdowns to start the fourth. San Diego State kicked a 46 yard field goal with just over five minutes left to take a 27-24 lead. Air Force would have two more possessions but the last one ended with a failed Hail Mary attempt on the last play of the game. The Falcons are 9-4 ATS and the total is 9-4 this season.

California is coached by Sonny Dykes. The Golden Bears have road losses to Utah 30-24, UCLA 40-24, Oregon 44-28 and Stanford 35-22, plus to USC 27-21 at home. The Bears started off the season 5-0, before a four game losing streak. Cal has home wins over Grambling 73-14, San Diego State 35-7, Washington State 34-28, Oregon State 54-24 and Arizona State 48-46 in the last game of the regular season. The Golden Bears have road wins at Texas 45-44 and Washington 30-24.

Cal was a 3.5 point favorite against Arizona State and the total was 67.5. Arizona State took an early 24-3 lead and would lead 27-10 at halftime. Cal outscored ASU 21-6 in the third quarter and trailed 33-31. The Golden Bears would take a 45-39 lead with just over six minutes left. The Sun Devils regained the lead at 46-45 with 2:35 left. Cal drove down the field and kicked the game winning 26 field goal as time expired. The teams combined for almost 1,300 total yards. The Golden Bears are 5-7 ATS and the total is 4-8 this season.

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Air Force is outscoring teams 34-23 this season. The Falcons are in the top 40 nationally in both categories. Air Force averages 453 yards per game on offense, including 322 rushing and 131 passing yards. The Falcons are #32 nationally in total offense, #3 in rushing, but #123 in passing out of 128 teams. On defense, Air Force is allowing 337 total yards per game, including 190 passing and 147 rushing yards. The Falcons are #39 or better in all three categories. Air Force has forced 17 turnovers but has 20 of their own. Air Force averages 38 penalty yards per game and opponents average 43. The Falcons are 92/206 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 77/206. Air Force has forced 36 sacks and has allowed just 2 this season. Air Force is 42/50 scoring in the red zone with 35 touchdowns and opponents are 24/30 with 15 touchdowns.

Quarterback Karson Roberts took over for an injured Nate Romine early in the season after Romine tore his ACL. Roberts has thrown for 1,446 yards with 9 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and has 152 carries for 674 yards and 9 touchdowns. Romine threw for 143 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception, and rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown before the injury.

Running back Jacobi Owens has 186 carries for 1,009 yards and 6 touchdowns. D.J. Johnson has 82 carries for 425 yards with 6 touchdowns. He is out with an ankle injury. Timothy McVey has 45 carries for 397 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bryan Driskell has 48 carries for 332 yards. Shayne Davern and Benton Washington each have four touchdown runs.

Receiver Jalen Robinette has 21 catches for 572 yards with 4 touchdowns, and has also thrown two touchdown passes. Garrett Brown has 26 catches for 534 yards with a touchdown, plus 29 carries for 220 yards and a touchdown. Garrett Griffin has 12 catches for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns.

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Cal is outscoring teams 37-30 this season. California is #24 in scoring nationally.  The Golden Bears average 524 yards per game on offense, including 368 passing and 156 rushing. Cal is #9 in total offense,  #4 in passing and #88 in rushing nationally. California is allowing 455 total yards per game on defense, including 252 passing and 204 rushing yards. Cal is #94 or worse in all three categories. The Bears have forced 24 turnovers and have 22 of their own. Cal averages 45 penalty yards per game and opponents average 65 yards per game.  The Golden Bears are 90/192 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 87/199. Cal has forced 27 sacks and allowed 26 of their own. The Bears are 53/60 scoring in the red zone with 39 touchdowns. Opponents are 44/47 with 28 touchdowns. The Golden Bears have two pick sixes and a fumble return for a touchdown this season.

Quarterback Jared Goff has completed 64.2% of his passes for 4,252 yards with 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He could be a top ten pick in next year’s NFL draft. Back-up Chase Forrest has thrown for 162 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Running back Khalfani Muhammad has 78 carries for 539 yards and a touchdown, plus 17 catches for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. Vic Enwere has 98 carries for 486 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 7 catches. Tre Watson has 76 carries for 434 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.  Daniel Lasco has 65 carries for 331 yards with 3 touchdowns, along with 4 catches for 24 yards. He is probable with an ankle injury.

Receiver Bryce Treggs has 41 catches for 813 yards and 6 touchdowns. Kenny Lawler has 47 catches for 583 yards and 10 touchdowns. Trevor Davis has 38 catches for 653 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Stephen Anderson has 40 catches for 460 yards and 2 touchdowns. Darius Powe has 43 catches for 490 yards and 6 touchdowns. Maurice Harris has 36 catches for 491 yards and 6 touchdowns. Five defensive players are on the injury report.

California is 4-0 ATS after allowing more than 40 points, 4-1 after scoring more than 40 points, and after allowing more than 280 passing yards, 7-16 after failing to cover, 2-5 in bowl games, 4-14 on grass, 1-4 after passing for more than 280 yards, 1-5 after gaining more than 450 total yards, and overall, 0-5 against teams with winning records, 0-4 after allowing more than 450 total yards, in December and in neutral site games.

Air Force is 5-0 ATS after passing for less than 170 yards, 6-1 in non-conference games, and overall, 5-1 after rushing for 200 yards or more and in December, 4-1 in bowl games, after a cover, and in neutral site games, 8-2 against teams with winning records and on grass, 6-14 after a straight up loss, and 3-9 after allowing more than 200 rushing yards.

California struggles on defense to say the least, and Air Force should be able to exploit that on the ground. The Falcons have a top 40 defense, but I don’t know if they can slow down the potent Golden Bear attack. This should be a high scoring game, and I like Air Force to pull of the upset.

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