By Zach Walker
California Golden Bears vs. Air Force Falcons
Tuesday – December 29 – 1:00 pm CT
Amon G. Carter Stadium – Ft. Worth, Texas
Records Before the Game
California Golden Bears (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12)
Air Force Falcons (8-5, 6-2 Mountain West)
How did these teams get to this Bowl?
Air Force did the whole two halves thing with their season, starting rather bland, going three and three in their first six, including losses to Michigan State and the Naval Academy on the road, but railed off five straight conference wins only to lose the final two games, including the Mountain West championship game. Cal did the same as Air Force, except the invert, won their first five, then lost four straight, and finished win-loss-win, with the finisher being an epic shoot-out against Arizona State.
California Golden Bears
I cannot wait to personally evaluate the Bears QB, Jared Goff. He’s got the first round about him and his game. The junior is an ideal six foot four inch tall, 215 pound quarterback that isn’t a sheltered thrower. He’s a serious spinner. Throwing 492 passes this season, completing 64.2 of those throws, cashing in 37 times and only throwing to the bad guys 13 times. Let that stat sink in. Only 13 picks after throwing 492 passes, that’s some real next level stuff. He’s piled up 4,252 yards in twelve games, and no 1000 yard receivers. Six pass catchers have 36 or more catches, and that seriously strains a defense when trying to plan out, pre-play, where the ball is going to go. The Darius’ on the Cal defense could have a sweet game, though the Air Force offense isn’t through the air ironically, but if the Falcons are feeling frosty, they should be aware of where Darius White and Darius Allensworth are lining up. White leads the team in interceptions with three, but has eight pass breakups, and Allensworth, has a pick of his own, but ten breakups.
Air Force Falcons
As many total first downs as the Falcons have given up (203), the Falcons have two more of picked on the ground by their offense. The Falcons racked up 4,187 yards on the ground in thirteen games this season, 764 rushing attempts in total this season, and that seems really exhausting. As impressive as the Goff interception info was, the Falcons can answer with only 190 lost yards in their 764 attempts. The Falcons’ defense has only allowed touchdowns on half of their allowed attempts (15/30), and they’ve more than doubled up their opponents in scoring in the fourth quarter (131 points for/63 points allowed). The Falcons’ have six 50+ tackle players, and four with double-digit tackles for loss, and 91 tackles for loss as a team, with 36 sacks.
Prediction: Golden Bears 45 – Falcons 31. I love the contrast in this game, but if this is Goff’s play-in game for the NFL, he’s going to want to play a big game.