Utah State (1-1) at Air Force (2-0)
Kickoff: Friday, 6 p.m. MDT.
Venue: Falcon Stadium, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
TV: CBS Sports.
Livestream: CBS Sports Network Live.
Radio: Aggie Sports Network.
Series: Air Force leads 6-5.
Weather: Sunny with no chance of precipitation, with 10 mph winds out of north and temperatures in the high 60s at kickoff.
For Air Force: The Falcons are 2-0 with wins over Robert Morris and Sam Houston State. Air Force is projected to compete for the Mountain West Conference championship this season.
What to watch for
The Aggies are coming off one of the most electric offensive performances in program history, but face a much stiffer opponent this week in Air Force, one of the projected powerhouses in the MW this season.
That said, USU has racked up more than 400 yards of offense in each of its last two games against the Falcons, proving more than capable of moving the ball and scoring with 35-plus points in back-to-back wins in the series.
Offensively, the Aggies will need to make good on their possessions — which will be limited — meaning limiting turnovers and being effective on first-down plays.
Do that and USU has proven capable of moving the ball against Air Force’s defense.
Quarterback Cooper Legas was highly efficient against the Bengals, less so against Iowa, and how he plays against the Falcons will go a long way in determining if the Aggies win or lose.
The biggest challenge presented by Air Force, as always, is its triple-option attack. The Aggies have struggled to contain the Falcons the last two years, despite winning both games, giving up 27 points last season and 41 points in 2021.
USU’s defense proved stout against the run versus Iowa, holding the Hawkeyes to under 100 yards rushing, but Air Force’s triple option is a different animal altogether.
Thus far this season, Air Force is averaging 27.5 points and 363.5 yards of offense per game (309.0 rushing, 54.5 passing), while allowing only five points and 118 yards of offense per contest.
Zac Larrier, Air Force quarterback: Triple-option attacks are highly reliant on good quarterback play and the Falcons have a fairly untested vet in Larrier. A senior, Larrier has played in 12 games over four seasons, but in two games this year he has completed 3 of 6 pass attempts for 109 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He also leads the Falcons in rushing thus far with 164 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. Larrier is a multisport standout, with MW championships in both the indoor and outdoor 200-meter dash.
“The challenge gets extremely difficult on a short week against a very good Air Force team. So we know what that presents. We’ve got to get ready quickly to travel and that is always difficult, but then when you put the triple option football, the style of play that they have in all three phases, just how well-coached they are, how many few undisciplined mistakes they make, how they run the clock, shorten the game, this is a huge game for us. You’d love to start out Mountain West Conference play 1-0 and we know what that’s going to take.” — Utah State coach Blake Anderson
“They (Utah State) do create open field, open space, and they move exceptionally well. So open space stays open space. They don’t have to have a real wide open window to be able to get through it. ... They have a number of guys. I don’t think it is a case where they want just one guy. They have drives where they reel off plays in a hurry so they want to have multiple guys.” — Air Force coach Troy Calhoun
Utah State: vs. James Madison on Sept. 23.
Air Force: at San Jose State on Sept. 22.
Utah State schedule
- Sep. 2 — Iowa 24, Utah State 14.
- Sept. 9 — Utah State 78, Idaho State 28.
- Sept. 16 — at Air Force (6 p.m. MDT, CBS Sports Network).
- Sept. 23 — vs. James Madison (6 p.m. MDT).
- Sept. 30 — at UConn (10 a.m. MDT, CBS Spots Network).
- Oct. 7 — vs. Colorado State (6 p.m. MDT).
- Oct. 13 — vs. Fresno State (6 p.m. MDT, CBS Sports Network).
- Oct. 21 — at San Jose State (5 p.m. MDT, CBS Sports Network).
- Nov. 4 — at San Diego State (TBA).
- Nov. 11 — vs. Nevada (1 p.m. MST).
- Nov. 18 — vs. Boise State (5 p.m. MST, CBS Sports Network).
- Nov. 24 — at New Mexico (1:30 p.m. MST, CBS Sports Network).