Army (1-7): Lost to Ball State, 30-22. This game was a bit of role reversal for Army. Usually their offense plays pretty well, but just can’t keep up with the gobs of points that the defense gives up. Against Ball State, though, the Army defense was sort of decent. That’s relatively speaking, obviously. Giving up 413 yards isn’t good, but it was good enough to at least keep the game within reach. Ball State went up 14-0 after their first two drives, but they were never able to pull away. Army didn’t give up another touchdown until the 4th quarter, and by Army standards, that’s a pretty big deal. That was probably as good a performance as Rich Ellerson is going to get out of his young defense this season.
Unfortunately for Army, the offense couldn’t respond. In some ways, this was like the Eastern Michigan game. Ball State even used the same defense: the 4-4 cover 3 with the free safety playing the pitch. While Army was able to run for 341 yards, they weren’t very consistent in moving the ball. Just like against EMU, lousy blocking doomed the offense and led to four 3 & outs. On top of that, Hayden Tippett fumbled away a scoring opportunity at the end of the first half after Army had moved to the Ball State 30. Nevertheless, Army still had a chance to make it a one-score game with a little more than 2 minutes left, but Dan Grochowski’s FG attempt from 43 yards sailed wide left.
Both the offense and defense have had their individual moments this year, but neither have shown that they are good enough to carry the team when the other is struggling. Air Force has shown that it’s capable of losing to one-win teams, though, so maybe there’s a little hope for Army this week. But only a little.
Air Force (5-3): Beat Nevada, 48-31. This was probably Air Force’s best performance of the season, seen by DOZENS of people in Colorado Springs on Friday night. Nevada is a pretty good football team, and Air Force outgained them by 220 yards even without the services of Cody Getz. Filling in for Getz as the Falcon’s go-to back was Wes Cobb, who ran for 152 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. Nevada’s defense appeared completely lost at times, and Air Force never had to punt. Not that the Wolf Pack didn’t have their opportunities. Nevada pulled to within a field goal after recovering a fumble near midfield in the third quarter, but Air Force responded with a pair of long drives on their next two possessions to regain a two-score advantage that they would hold on to the rest of the way.
The loss to UNLV is killing Air Force in the Mountain West. At 4-1, the Falcons are tied with Fresno State and San Diego State in second place in the league standings, and have yet to play either one. They could have controlled their own destiny for a share of their first MWC title since they don’t play Boise State. Instead, they have to hope that the 4-0 Broncos trip up somewhere along the way. Boise State already beat Fresno State. They get SDSU at home this week and hit the road to play Nevada at the end of the year. Meanwhile, Air Force plays both SDSU and Fresno State on the road. It’s a tall order.