Expert Picks 'Under' in Air Force & San Diego St. Strong Defensive College Football Matchup

Teddy Covers

Friday, December 4, 2015 6:52 PM GMT

Friday, Dec. 4, 2015 6:52 PM GMT

We're doing our betting preview for the Mountain West Conference Championship, join us inside as we present to our readers the sharp college football pick on the game.

Mountain West Conference Championship Game Preview
San Diego State head coach Rocky Long is known for his defensive prowess. During his tenure with New Mexico, the Lobos consistently ranked among the best teams in the Mountain West on the defensive side of the football. In five years since he took over at San Diego State, the Aztecs, too, have consistently ranked among the best defenses in the conference. Last year they allowed fewer than 20 points per game.  This year, since a rough start to the campaign, the San Diego State defense has held all eight of their conference opponents to 17 points or less, allowing an average of just 11.2 points per game to their opponents.

Rocky Long has enjoyed tremendous success shutting down the option. San Diego State held Navy to 17 points in their bowl game last year.  The Aztecs have gone 4-0 SU and ATS against the college football odds in the four meetings between Long and Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun. The Air Force offense hasn’t worked in any of those defeats, particularly in the last three meetings, when the Falcons have been held to 43 combined points, just over 14 points per game.

Air Force has thrown the ball more this year than in recent seasons, still relying heavily on the option, but capable of winging it downfield for big gainers. QB Karson Roberts threw for 446 yards on just 32 attempts over the past two weeks. But six of those 32 passes got intercepted, three each week. That’s bad news against a San Diego State team that was +19 in turnovers in conference play, a big part of their 8-0 record.  Calhoun won’t be able to unleash Roberts against a defense of this caliber, forcing Air Force to play a little bit more conservatively than they have been.

But San Diego State isn’t primed to light up the scoreboard either, not with starting senior QB Maxwell Smith (a transfer from the SEC) knocked out for the season following a knee injury last week. That leaves frosh QB Christian Chapman behind center this week. Long’s quote speaks volumes about his gameplan with an untested quarterback:

“We got good confidence in Christian Chapman. He throws the ball well, he is quick on his feet, he can get out of trouble. What he doesn't have is the experience. We are going to probably have to be very conservative on offense. Make sure he's comfortable with everything we ask him to do. But he's going to have to throw the ball and complete some passes to give us a chance to move the ball like we want to."

San Diego State has an elite running back(by Mountain West Conference standards) in Donnell Pumphrey, who ran for more than 1400 yards at 5.5 yards per carry while notching 16 touchdowns on the ground. Long: “He's a great running back. He gives us the chance to control the football….He's not very big but he can run between the tackles and he can make people miss."

But Air Force is here, in large part, due to their strong run defense, a unit that allowed less than 1700 rushing yards this year despite facing both Army and Navy. With San Diego State unlikely to be able to move the ball effectively and Air Force unlikely to be able to move the ball consistently, look for a low scoring defensive struggle that stays Under the total for our college football pick.

College Football Pick: Under 50 at Bet365

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