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Roundtable: What does Colorado have to do to beat Air Force?

The Buffs can’t overlook the Falcons.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 06 Navy at Air Force Photo by Kyle Emery/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the emotional highs of beating both Colorado State and Nebraska, the Colorado Buffaloes wrap up non-conference play against Air Force. The Falcons don’t have the same reputation as the Nubs, but they may be the best team CU will play early this season. With an early kickoff (11 am, Pac-12 Networks), the Buffs will look to get off to a hot start to put away Air Force before they cause any trouble.

What are you most excited for on Saturday when the Buffs take on Air Force?

Jon Woods: Hope. The start to the season not only allowed Buffs fans to start dreaming of a bowl game this year and even more progress under Mel Tucker in the future, but it also allowed them to get truly excited about the prospects for the season. Something that I feel had been lacking prior to these two wins.

Jack Barsch: I’m most excited to see this team get off to a not awful start. If you start slow against an option team they will methodically bury you. The Buffs need to get off to a quicker start than they have been

Anthony Kazmierczak: ”Letdown” seems to be the word of the week in Boulder. I’m not buying it. Mel Tucker will have this team prepared for a stiff test against Air Force. Like, Jack, I really want to see this team get off to a hot start and maintain it.

Sam Metivier: I agree about not having a let down. The Buffs have been preparing for this game for a long time and the coaches have a ton of experience against the option. I’m excited to see if CU’s preparedness will result in a dominant game -- good teams win big.

Are you scared of Air Force?

Jack: Terrified. Air Force, like all other option teams, will bore you to death. They have more athletes than usual along the lines, and they have a racer at RB. It is scary indeed.

Sam: I’m worried that Air Force will be well-coached and competent, because CU hasn’t played against (1) a disciplined team, (2) an underdog actually capable of winning, or (3) someone capable of really controlling the tempo of the game.

Anthony: I would be lying if I said I wasn’t. The Buffaloes defense has had their moments, and played terrific in the second half against Nebraska, but we’ve still surrendered 62 points in two games. Nate Landman and the linebackers have a huge test, but I believe they’ll be up for the task. The Falcons only threw one pass in their 48-7 season-opening win over Colgate, so our secondary should be able to play up a little to stop the run as well.

Jon: I’m absolutely scared of Air Force. Not only would I be scared of any team that Colorado was playing at this point but AF brings a unique system and a desire to upset the big dog in the state. I’ll be sweating all game long.

What can be done to slow down this option offense?

Anthony: Stack the box and don’t let them get outside. OLB’s Alex Tchangam and Carson Wells need to have big games.

Jack: ASSIGNMENT FOOTBALL. Match up on everybody, have the discipline to not lose your assignment, and stop the inside run

Sam: I would say that Tchangam and Davion Taylor will need to be major players making plays on the edge. We also don’t know the health of Carson Wells (concussion), so Nu’umotu Falo will be huge. Put Aaron Maddox in the box too.

How does CU beat them?

Anthony: I’d like to see them fight fire with fire. Heavy dose of Alex Fontenot and Jaren Mangham. But I don’t believe the Falcons have the athletes to cover Laviska Shenault, K.D. Nixon or Tony Brown.

Sam: Air Force can be moved by this CU offensive line. Maybe Colorado could pull an Air Force and run that clock down themselves. But yeah, Anthony, you’re right — there is no way they can match up with Viska, especially not when Tony Brown, Daniel Arias and Jalen Harris are all big bodies to throw to.

Anthony: Exactly. This might be Viska’s breakout game of this young season.

Jon: While Air Force can’t do it as well, I go back to how Army took Oklahoma and Michigan to the wire [in 2018 and 2019, respectively]. Colorado has to maximize their offensive possessions and avoid careless turnovers. They’re aren’t going to get the opportunities that they typically do so they have to take advantage. Don’t settle for field goals. On defense they’ve got keep series short when they can. Don’t let Air Force methodically march down the field and wear them out.

Anthony: Oklahoma should have lost that game :)

Sam: I just miss watching how college football was meant to be played: triple option working magic, game streamed on Twitch, Sooner feet in full view.

What’s your prediction for the game?

Anthony: I’m taking CU to cover (3.5-point favorites) as you’ll see when tomorrow’s Pac-12 Betting Guide gets released. I’ll go with 34-20.

Sam: I’ll go with a low-scoring game with both teams running out the clock. Buffs still win, 24-17.

Jon: Right there with ya, Sam. I’m going 27-13.

Jack: CU will cover with a touchdown win.

What are your expectations for the season after seeing the first two games?

Jon: I want six wins. Colorado’s better play, and more importantly belief, combined with the relative mediocrity of the Pac-12 makes me think they can get there. And maybe even further.

Sam: I think six is the floor now. The Pac-12 South is so bad that the Buffs can get to six wins just by beating Air Force, Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA. Of those games, Air Force is the best team. USC and Stanford at home are also quite winnable.

Anthony: To be determined. I just don’t know. I’m still beatdown after going 5-0 to start last season and then losing seven straight. Gotta believe that we’ll go bowling this year. Really like Tucker’s attitude and coaching style thus far. Need to see more complete games, especially from the defense.