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Posted at 11:15 AM EST
7:00 PM EST. Of the two teams featured in this Mountain West bout, the Falcons of Air Force certainly own the higher profile. Under Coach Troy Calhoun, the Falcons have assembled two 10-win seasons in their previous three campaigns (2014 and 2016) and participated in the 2015 Mountain West Championship Game. Besides being a fan favorite as a United States Military Academy institution, the Falcons are the team in the Mountain West that seem to have Boise State’s number. The Falcons have won three in a row against the Broncos and though this may not seem pertain to this contest, it does in that ‘Thunder and Lightning’ have single-handedly reshaped the landscape of this league by showing that the traditional Goliath of this conference is beatable. The Falcons are that “one rock”. All those factoids have an influence on the perception of this market. With Air Force also engaging in a dog-fight with the current big dog of the Mountain West, San Diego State, the Falcons seem positioned to once again be primed for a 10-win season and perhaps a contender for the Mountain West if they were to cross paths with the Aztecs again in the Conference Championship Game at season’s end. Air Force led on two occasions against SDSU. They led by as much as nine points at one juncture and held a lead late in the fourth quarter before the two-time defending MWC Champs would slip away in a 28-24 heartbreaker. Performances such as these often set up teams for a huge let-down in their follow-up.
For the Lobos, the concussion bug has created a quarterback carousel. Two weeks ago, New Mexico lost its starting signal caller Lamar Jordan due to a helmet-to-helmet hit sustained against Boise State. With back-up Tevaka Tuioti who also split time with Jordan shelved thanks to injuries of a similar nature, New Mexico had to turn to its third-string quarterback Cotlin Gerhart to get the job done. New Mexico would lose and head into Tulsa as a 10-point road pup, seemingly positioned to be a sacrificial lamb to the Golden Hurricane in its own den. With many suggesting New Mexico was a sitting duck, Gerhart would be exceptional on the ground and rush for 156 yards and a touchdown. New Mexico would go on to a complete the upset thanks mostly in part to the play of its defense, which has been stout against the run all season long. The Lobos managed to mitigate a Tulsa offense averaging 47 points a game and 364 yards on the ground to just 13 points and 155 yards rushing. With Air Force being a run specialist in its own right, the Lobos match-up well with the Falcons.
The Lobos have won three of the last four against the Falcons and they are playing this one at home in Albuquerque. Nevertheless, given the perception of Air Force compared to New Mexico, many in this market see the Falcons as a steal. After all, Air Force’s losses came at #7 Michigan and against aforementioned #22 San Diego State, both of which have a bit of shine to them. New Mexico lost to New Mexico State earlier this year, which on paper looks terrible. However, New Mexico will have Lamar Jordan back at the helm for this contest and he can throw as well as run. In fact, Jordan threw for 328 yards in two and a half weeks before his injury. Air Force left it all on the field the past two weeks and especially last week against SDSU in what was a deceptively physical game. The Falcons are spent and a New Mexico team that's just hitting its stride is a tough assignment coming off games against two ranked opponents.
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#196 NEW MEXICO +116 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.32)