Armed Forces Bowl Pick: Side With Air Force +7 vs. California

Joe Gavazzi

Thursday, December 24, 2015 12:15 PM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015 12:15 PM GMT

In this article we preview the Armed Forces Bowl between the California Golden Bears and the Air Force Falcons and offer our college football pick.

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College Football Pick: Air Force +7 

Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

Air Force vs. California (-7) 2:00 ET ESPN
In the appropriately entitled Armed Forces Bowl, Air Force flies to DFW to face a California team from a highly respected PAC 12 Conference.  Each of these teams had solid winning seasons, is deserving of their Bowl and should be eager to be here.  But in what is a virtual no-brainer for this bureau, we will take the better running game with the better defensive numbers as a 7 point underdog.

 

California Golden Bears
There are reports of potential unrest in the Cal camp.  Third year HC Sonny Dykes has reportedly been scouring the underbrush for other potential coaching opportunities.  Perhaps, it has been just a clever ploy to get leverage for a new contract with Cal.  In his 3 years at the helm of the Bears, he has lifted the team from 1 to 5 to 7 wins with his version of the Air Raid offense.  This year, led by QB Goff, who had 37 TDPs, the Bears passed for 368/8.6 per pass.  It was good to help the Bears average 37/524 on offense (numbers that were equivalent to last season).  But, the big reason why Cal transformed from a winning to a losing team was their improvement on the defensive end from 40/512 last year to only 30/455 this year. Yet, the momentum faded down the stretch after a 5-0 SU start, a 30-24 loss at Utah on October 10th precipitated the bubble burst, and ensuing 4-game losing streak and a 2-5 SU ATS finish, the only victories were against last place team, Oregon St. and a season-ending home win vs. Arizona St. in a game that held little meaning for either team.  Now, they must bring their 204/4.8 run defense to a Bowl game in which they will face a triple option attack for the first time this season.  

 

Air Force Falcons
Must prefer an Air Force offense, led by QB Roberts, who had the No. 2 ground game in the country at 322/5.5!  But, the Fly Boys became far more than a one-trick pony, when they showed their versatility by throwing for 270 or more passing yards in late season contests against Utah St. and Boise St.  For consecutive seasons, Air Force is solid on the defensive side of the ball allowing just 23/337.  That includes allowing just 51% completions and only 190 PYPG.  That will obviously be valuable in stopping what the Bears like to do best! 

 

Final Analysis
Bowl dogs in this price range, who outrush the opposition, are an over 70% proposition against the spread.  Throw in the better defense and a superior 2nd half of the season and you see why Air Force, arguably, the more motivated team, following their Championship Game loss to San Diego St., is a rock solid play!  I invite you to put the college football odds in your favor and lineup with my college football pick on Air Force.

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