December 29, 2015 (1:40 PM ET)
Two college football selections have been posted two days in advance for Thursday.
As for today, a pick on Air Force was wisely released yesterday afternoon, helping us get the key number +7!
Take Air Force at +7 spread against California for 3% of the bankroll.
The California Golden Bears had high hopes entering this season but struggled down the stretch, losing 5 of their last 7 games. They were fortunate to come out on the winning end of a high scoring shootout in their season finally, a 48-46 win over Arizona State thanks mostly to their potential NFL draft pick, QB Jared Goff. California boasts a dangerous aerial attack with Goff under center as he has already broken his own single-season school records for passing yards (4,252) and touchdowns (37). Air Force will likely have a hard time completely shutting down the passing attack, but being able to slow it down, just a bit, could be their key to covering the spread.
Air Force has a ball-hawk in the secondary in Safety Weston Steelhammer who could make an impact in this contest. Steelhammer recorded a team-high 80 tackles (10.5 for losses) and five interceptions in addition to seven pass breakups during the regular season. While the military schools are not typically known for their defense, Air Force ranks third in the Mountain West in scoring defense, allowing just 23.2 points per game.
Like Cal, Air Force also boasts an explosive offensive attack with a ground game that ranks third in the nation in production, averaging 321.8 yards per game. The triple-option is led by quarterback Karson Roberts, who is averaging 111.2 rushing yards per game and was sacked only twice in the entire regular season. While many may think the low sack total is because the Falcons predominately run the ball and that Roberts never drops back to pass, but that would be a mistake. In fact, he owns the same number of touchdowns through the air (9) as on the ground and has completed 70 of 134 attempts for 1,446 yards this season. The aerial game has been a big part of the Air Force offense as teams often focus on stopping the triple option ground game. This opens up big holes in the secondary and when Roberts airs it out, it is often for huge chunks of yards down the field.
The Cal defense has no doubt been their Achilles Heel this season and could be their downfall for this contest. Defending the Triple-Option takes an extreme amount of discipline from the defensive players. With so much movement and confusion in the backfield, it forces defensive players to play man defense to ensure that every back is accounted for. One blown assignment almost always leads to a big game, or worse, a house call. We expect the Falcons to be able to move the ball with relative ease against the Bears. One other thing that makes Air Force dangerous is that they are a team that likes to go for t on 4th and short. What that means is that they essentially use the full 4 downs to make their first downs. If they get ahead of the chains on the ground, they will slowly be able to march their way up and down the field, wearing out the Bears defense.
This should be a high-scoring and entertaining game between two teams with contrasting styles. Cal has not seen a team that runs the triple option this season and trying to mimic an offense as efficiently run by Air Force is incredibly difficult to do on the practice field. They have given up an average of 203 yards per game on the ground to their opponents this season which likely doesn't bode well for them in this contest. Unless the Cal defense has performed a complete 180 degree turn and performs like an elite run stopping unit, the Falcons should be able to have success on the ground. Air Force will do what they do best and that is run the football and drain the clock, keeping Goff and the Cal offense on the sidelines. The Falcons best defense will likely be their offense and that is where the points will likely prove valuable as they keep this within a single score.
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