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Quick Facts and Takeaways: Get to Know the Air Force Falcons

Get more familiar with Louisville's upcoming First Responder Bowl opponent.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Who's up for spending the holidays in the Lone Star State?

The Louisville football program finally learned their postseason draw on Sunday, and they will squaring off with Air Force in the 2021 First Responder Bowl. Kickoff from Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 3:15 p.m. EST.

This will be the Cardinals' second time going bowling in the three years under head coach Scott Satterfield. They won the Music City Bowl, 38-28, in 2019 during Satterfield's first year at the helm. Louisville will be making their 19th bowl appearance over the last 24 seasons, and sport an 11-11-1 all-time bowl record.

This will be the first ever meeting between Louisville and Air Force, though the Cardinals do have some familiarity with playing the U.S. Service Academies, as they are 6-3 vs. Army and 2-0 vs. Navy. They last played a service academy on Sept. 11, 2004, defeating Army 52-21 at West Point.

Louisville finished the 2021 regular season at 6-6, while going 4-4 in Atlantic Coast Conference. They started off the year with a 3-1 mark, but then had a 1-4 stretch in the middle of the season that was marred by an inability to close out in the fourth quarter.

The bowl will give the Cardinals an opportunity to right the ship heading into the offseason. After posting back-to-back blowouts wins against Syracuse and Duke, the latter which clinched bowl eligibility, Louisville ended the regular season with an emasculating loss at home to Kentucky.

Quick Facts on Air Force

- Record: 9-3 overall, 6-2 Mountain West
Points Per Game: 31.0
- Points Allowed Per Game: 19.1
- Total Offense: 423.3
- Total Defense: 288.0
Rushing Yards Per Game: 340.8
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 94.7
Passing Yards Per Game: 82.5
Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 193.3
Third-Down Rate: 44.0%
Opponents' Third-Down Rate: 39.0%
Turnovers Gained: 15 (eight interceptions, seven fumble recoveries)
Turnovers lost: 9 (four interceptions, five fumbles lost)
- Average Time of Possession: 36:41
Sacks Per Game: 2.92
- Tackles for Loss Per Game: 5.5
Sacks Per Game Allowed: 0.75
- Tackles for Loss Per Game Allowed: 3.33

Quick Takeaways on Air Force

In one of the better Group of Five conferences during the 2021 season, the Falcons had themselves a solid season. They were able to take down Boise State on the road, which is never an easy environment, as well as a good Nevada squad in their own building.

Even in their three losses, they were competitive. They fell 49-45 to eventual MW Champion Utah State, 20-14 to then-ranked San Diego State, and 21-14 to an Army team that put 56 on Wake Forest.

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As you can imagine with it being a service academy, Air Force is one of the few teams in college football that still runs the triple option. They almost never throw the football, averaging 8.6 passing attempts per game, compared to a whopping 65.1 rushing attempts.

As you can imagine with a team that runs the football that much, the Falcons put up some gaudy rushing numbers. Unsurprisingly, they sport the No. 1 rushing attack in FBS at 340.8 yards per game. This is powered primarily by running back Brad Roberts, who is the nation's 10th-leading rusher at 1,275 yards on the season. His 13 rushing touchdowns are 24th in the nation

Quarterback Haaziq Daniels also gets involved on QB options and draws regularly, putting up the second-most rushing yards and rushing scores on the team at 705 and nine. On the rare occasions he does throw the ball, more often than not the ball is going to either Brandon Lewis or Micah Davis. The wide receiver duo accounts for 668 of Air Force's 990 receiving yards.

While their quirky offense will get the majority of the headlines, the Falcons have one of the best statistical defenses in college football. They not only allow the 13th-fewest points at 19.1 per game, but the fifth-fewest yards at 288.0.

This is powered primarily thanks to a fantastic ability to contain the run, as Air Force allows just 94.7 rushing yards per game - one of eight FBS teams to allow under 100.

The player to watch out for in this regard is unquestionably outside linebacker Vince Sanford, whose 17.0 tackles for loss is tied for seventh-best in FBS. Defensive tackle Jordan Jackson also has 10.0 TFLs, while defensive end Christopher Herrera has 7.5.

As for containing passing attacks, the Air Force bodes well here, too. They allow only 193.3 passing yards per game, which is good for 20th in FBS. Only three teams threw for over 250 yards on this Falcons defense (Utah State - 448, Nevada - 351, Boise State - 259).

(Photo of CJ McNeil: Isaiah J. Downing -USA TODAY Sports)

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