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Armed Forces Bowl: Baylor Bears vs. Air Force Falcons Betting Preview

Considering that Thursday night’s college football game is called the Armed Forces Bowl, you’d think that the Air Force Falcons (9-3) would have the advantage. While the line is moving towards the Falcons at +3.5 after a +6.5 open, the fact that the Baylor Bears (6-6) were battle-tested in the Big 12 this season is a big reason why they are the favorites here.

Another advantage that BU has in this game is that it’s being played at Amon G. Carter Stadium, normally hostile territory on the campus of TCU but now just an hour trip north from Waco meaning the Bears should be well represented in the stands.

Can Baylor Get Up For This Game?

One thing you have to wonder ahead of Thursday night’s game is if the Baylor program thinks that the Armed Forces Bowl is beneath them. That’s not a knock on the military or any service academy, it’s just that the Bears were 12-2 last season and played on New Year’s Day with a 21-7 win over Ole Miss so the expectations were much higher entering the third season under Dave Aranda.

What we do know is that if Baylor takes this game lightly, they’ll get run over -quite literally, as Air Force has the top rushing attack in the country at 335.3 yards/game. The Bears defense faced some top-notch running backs over the last three games of the regular season, giving up 106 yards on 25 carries to Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn but then getting rolled for 179 yards and two TDs from Texas’ Bijan Robinson.

While the Air Force running game gets a lot of attention, they also have the #1 total yard defense in the country (255.4), largely from using up so much clock on offense. This is where Baylor is going to miss last year’s 1,400+ yards from Abram Smith and the veteran leadership of QB Gerry Bohanon, as they haven’t been able to replace either in 2022.

Air Force Looking at History

Double-digit victory seasons are impressive for any school, and especially a service academy, as Air Force has a chance to win 10+ games in back-to-back years for the first time since 1997/98 if they come out on top in the Armed Forces Bowl. That would also be 10+ wins in three of the last four years, which would officially stamp this as the golden era of Falcons football.

Air Force knows what they need to do on Thursday night, and that’s to feed RB Brad Roberts, who is third in the country with 1,612 rushing yards. The Falcons are 9-1 In the 10 games that Roberts has run for over 100 yards this season, which includes four straight to close out the year.

Baylor vs. Air Force Pick

Air Force is a very unique team with their vaunted triple-option, and frankly, it can be a handful if you’re not used to it. In that regard having a month to prepare for this game does help Baylor, especially as Aranda is taking back over defensive coordinator duties after firing Ron Roberts.

To those who got in early on the +6.5, congratulations, because even in their three losses, Air Force kept games close, all being by one score. That being said, the +3.5 is still too many points in a game that it wouldn’t be a shock if the Falcons won outright.

Pick: Air Force +3.5

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