Temperatures will be in the mid-teens with wind chills near zero when UNLV takes the field for its game against Air Force tonight at Falcon Stadium (ESPNU, 6:30 p.m.).
But it says here everybody in Scarlet and Gary will be experiencing warm and fuzzy feelings flying home after the Rebels (5-5, 3-3) run over the Falcons (2-10, 0-6) to garner their first bowl game bid since 2000.
Okay, I know it’s going to be cold. Real cold. And probably even a little snowy.
But as long as the Rebels don’t turn the ball over or panic when Air Force drives the field for their usual early touchdown or two while the defense adjusts to the speed of the triple-option, UNLV should roll to a fairly easy victory.
This is a matchup tailor-made for Bobby Hauck’s squad and especially a rested Tim Cornett who I believe will top the 200-yard mark in rushing while also going over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
Let’s put it this way: I’d have more faith in Nicco Fertitta, Zach Singer, Nick Gates and Bishop Gorman’s hard-hitting defense stopping the Rebel run game than Air Force’s.
The Falcons are allowing 244.3 yards per game on the ground that ranks them 117th out of 123 FBS teams in the nation. Imagine if they hadn’t opened the season against Colgate, a Patriot League team that still ran for 173 yards? Now toss in the fact that two of Air Force’s top defenders – linebacker Joey Nichol (groin), the seventh-leading tackler in the Mountain West, and nose guard Robert Green (knee) – are out and there’s really no reason to think about trying to pass in the frigid conditions.
If I’m calling the plays, it’s two tight ends and Cornett running behind the big future NFL tackle from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, Brett Boyko (6-7, 310), left guard Cameron Jefferson (6-6, 300) and center Robert Waterman (6-2, 290) and keep pound, pound, pounding away. Cornett with at least 30 carries or more if need me with a few Marcus Sullivan or Devante Davis reverses mixed in.
Don’t think it would work? Well, last time Air Force played on Nov. 8, New Mexico attempted three passes – completing just one – and pounded out a 45-37 victory. The Lobos finished that day with 451 yards rushing.
If it worked for Bob Davie and company, why not UNLV?
The Rebels also get a break tonight in that Air Force is starting a quarterback who began the year fourth-string, freshman Nate Romine, and the Falcons’ most dangerous offensive player, wide receiver Ty MacArthur (concussion) is out.
Final score: UNLV 38, Air Force 21. And that’s my zillion-dollar, platinum, lock-of-the-century from a non-gambling tout with a 99.9 success rate that can’t be verified but doesn’t matter as long as it forks over the big bucks for a radio or print advertisement. Of course, if it fails, I’ll give you another free pick next week!