BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado is off to a 2-0 start with emotional victories over rivals Colorado State and Nebraska. Saturday brings another rivalry game as the host Buffaloes tangle with in-state foe Air Force for the first time since 1974.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: Colorado -3.5
Separated by 85 miles, the programs have met 16 times, with Colorado winning 12, but Saturday's matchup in Boulder will be the first in 45 years. The Buffaloes, though, have been preparing for the Falcons' multiple-option offense some of each week since the start of fall camp in early August. "That's what's necessary," Colorado first-year coach Mel Tucker said on Monday. "You can't just start preparing for teams like this the week of. That's not going to get it done, obviously, because they're so different. ... It puts a lot of pressure on your defense, obviously, but we have done the things and we'll continue to do the things we need to do to prepare our guys." Air Force, meanwhile, has had an extra week to prepare for the Buffs with a bye week following their season-opening 48-7 win over Colgate on Aug. 31.
ABOUT AIR FORCE (1-0)
The Falcons, coming off their first back-to-back bowl-less seasons since 2006, were picked to finish third in the Mountain West's Mountain Division in the league's preseason media poll. Led by fullback Taven Birdow (80 yards rushing), tailback Kadin Remsberg (62 yards, two TDs) and quarterback Donald Hammond (26 yards, three TDs), Air Force rolled up 423 ground yards on 65 attempts in the opener but now are stepping up from an FCS defense to a Pac-12 unit which has held Colorado State and then-No. 25 Nebraska to a combined 310 rushing yards on 77 attempts. The Air Force defense, led by defensive back Milton Bugg III (five total tackles, interception) limited Colgate to 161 total yards, including only 86 through the air.
ABOUT COLORADO (2-0)
Senior quarterback Steven Montez has completed 41-of-61 passes so far for 607 yards, four TDs and one interception and has a talented trio of wide receivers to throw to in K.D. Nixon (8 receptions,177 yards, 1 TD), Tony Brown (8-131-1) and Laviska Shenault (8-79-1). Tailbacks Alex Fontenot (29-167) and Jaren Mangham (22-84) have each rushed for a trio of touchdowns. The defense has surrendered 974 yards in two games, including 664 through the air, but is tied for fourth nationally with a plus-2.5 turnover margin after recording a total of seven takeaways in its two outings.
1. Air Force (48.0 points per game) ranks 17th and Colorado (43.0) 23rd nationally in scoring.
2. Air Force threw only one pass against Colgate with reserve QB Isaiah Sanders hooking up with WR Geraud Sanders on a 41-yard completion.
3. The Falcons will have to account for Colorado defensive end Mustafa Johnson, who notched three sacks against Nebraska to earn Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week honors.
PREDICTION: Colorado 34, Air Force 28