• Paul Compton

Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force vs Cal

I project this game to be the 5th highest scoring Bowl game, with great value on the Over opening line. Both teams have decent defenses, but more than that, they obviously have great offenses. My numbers rank them right next to each other with AFA at 14th and CAL at 15th. AFA does run the triple option, running on 83% of their plays, but when they do throw it's for a very high ypp average, usually to the tight end streaking right down the middle of the field. In spite of the higher % of run plays, AFA runs at an offensive tempo that is still slightly faster than average. They aren't insanely slow like Army (slowest paced FBS team by 2.6 seconds), or reasonably slows like Navy (14th slowest). CAL, as a pass-centric team, has an even faster overall pace, at 22.5 spp (vs AFA's 24.7). AFA ended the season trending up on offense while trending slightly down on defense. CAL finished the season trending slightly down on defense as well. My system of line-making is generally going to favor the team that projects to run consistently well versus a team that should pass consistently well, as running is the more consistent way to gain first downs and score in the red zone. As such, I like Air Force to pull the upset here. CAL QB Goff is a great QB, with 6 "best" passing games vs. zero "worst," but teams with a pass defense in the same range as AFA's have done a reasonably good job of keeping CAL's passing game in check, especially in the second half of the season.