Armed Forces Bowl Odds
The Air Force Falcons (6-6) will face off against the Rice Owls (6-6) Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11:45 AM ET in the Armed Forces Bowl, which kicks off from Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. ESPN has the coverage. Oddsmakers have listed Air Force as a one-point favorite and have set the total at 61.0.
Why Air Force Covers
Air Force appeared fatigued at times down the stretch when it dropped three of its final four regular-season contests. The fatigue is understood considering the Falcons played games in 10 consecutive weeks.
Having a month off should really help this team. After all, extra time off has typically helped the Falcons in the past. Consider that Air Force is on a 16-6 against the spread run in road/neutral field games when playing with two weeks or rest or more. It has won these contests by an average score of 29.7 to 26.2.
Led by Cody Getz, the Falcons boast one of the top rushing attacks in the country. They rank second in rushing offense with 329.2 yards per game. Getz rushed for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns and became the first player in school history with three 200-yard rushing games in a season. He could make it four as he goes up against a Rice run defense that ranks 92nd in the nation with 192.8 yards allowed per game.
Air Force has won each of its last four meetings against Rice while averaging 313.0 yards on the ground.
Why Rice Covers
While Air Force limps in with losses in three of its last four games, Rice enters this contest with tons of confidence and momentum.
The Owls won each of their last four games to become bowl eligible, but they are no Cinderella story. Three of their losses came by four points or fewer and one of those was against Conference USA Champion Tulsa.
While the Air Force running game gets plenty of attention, and deservedly so, it could be the Rice running game that has the upper hand in this one. Led by senior running back Charles Ross, the Owls rank 29th in the country in rushing offense with 201.2 yards per game.
Ross and company could be poised for a big day on the ground against an Air Force run defense that ranks 101st in the nation with 198.0 yards allowed per game.
Rice has proven it can beat teams through the air as well. Led by Junior quarterback Taylor McHargue, the Owls average a respectable 219.8 passing yards per game. McHargue starred down the stretch by completing 64 of 98 passes for 843 yards with three touchdowns and one interception during Rice’s season-ending four-game winning streak.
This balanced offensive attack helped the Owls, who finished with 381 points and 5,053 yards of total offense, go down as the second-best offensive team in school history. Only the 2008 team that went 10-3 was more productive.
It has been wise to side with Rice when oddsmakers are expecting a close game. Consider that the Owls are 12-2 against the spread when the line is +3 to -3 under coach David Bailiff. They are a perfect 6-0 against the spread when the line is +3 to -3 over the last three seasons and have won these games by an average score of 36.4 to 27.3.
I have picked Rice to win this game. You can check out this page to see the rest of my college bowl predictions. Also, check out who Jack Jones, Carolina Sports, Vegas Top Cappers and Brandon Lee have picked to win the Armed Forces Bowl.