Western Michigan vs. Air Force Capsule
Western Michigan (8-4, 6-2 Mid-American) vs. Air Force (9-3, 5-3 Mountain West), 5:45 p.m. ET (ESPN).
Line: Air Force by 1.
Series Record: First meeting.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Western Michigan tries to finish off a remarkable turnaround season with its first bowl victory in school history. The Broncos went 1-11 in 2013, but were on the verge of playing in the MAC title game this season. P.J. Fleck, the youngest FBS coach in the country at 34, led the Broncos turnaround. Air Force also had a bounce-back season with the Falcons knocking off both Boise State and Colorado State during Mountain West play and claiming the Commander-in-Chief Trophy.
Air Force run game vs. Western Michigan run defense. Air Force focused on being more efficient passing this season, but ultimately the Falcons' offensive success relies on their run game. Air Force was seventh in the country averaging 272.2 yards per game on the ground. Western Michigan had one of the better run defenses in the MAC, giving up 142.7 yards per game on average. Only one of the Broncos' last seven opponents rushed for more than 150 yards.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Western Michigan: RB Jarvion Franklin. Franklin set a load of records in his first season for Western Michigan. He set the MAC record for yards rushing by a freshman with 1,525 yards. He set Western Michigan records for single-season touchdowns (25) and total points scored (150). And Franklin became the first player in MAC history to be named freshman of the year and offensive player of the year.
Air Force: QB Kale Pearson. The senior quarterback missed the season finale against Colorado State with an ankle injury suffered the previous week. Backup Nate Romine started against the Rams, but Pearson has been practicing and should get the start in his final college game. Pearson had 14 touchdown passes and six touchdowns rushing in the regular season.
FACTS & FIGURES
Air Force's last bowl game win was the 2010 Independence Bowl, a 14-7 victory over Georgia Tech. ... This will be the Broncos' second trip to the state of Idaho this season. Western Michigan won 45-33 at Idaho in September. ... Western Michigan's last bowl appearance was the 2011 Little Caesar's Bowl. The Broncos are 0-5 all-time in bowl games. ... Air Force is 0-2 all-time in games played in Boise, both against Boise State.