2016 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, Air Force vs. USA Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores

2016 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, Air Force vs. USA Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores

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2016 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, Air Force vs. USA Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl Prediction, Air Force vs. South Alabama Game Preview, History, Scores

Three reasons why you should watch the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl between Air Force (9-3) vs. South Alabama (6-6), why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.


Date: Friday, December 30th
Game Time: 5:30 pm
Venue: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
Network: Campus Insiders

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Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history

The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 25 out of 40

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

South Alabama has been quirky-good. Yeah, the Jaguars have been weird enough to need overtime to get by Nicholls State, and they lost to ULM, but they were also good enough to shock Mississippi State to start the season and stun eventual Mountain West champion San Diego State.

Air Force is the hottest team in the Mountain West. The Falcons got past a three-game midseason hiccup to win five straight over the second half of the season. They beat Colorado State in a shootout, stuffed Army, and shocked Boise State – they’re playing really, really well.

Campus Insiders will have some cool stuff. It’s not going to be your normal broadcast. Along with it being on-line, it’ll have different angles, different quirks, and different ways to watch a game. It’ll look and feel different. And considering last year’s inaugural game was one of the best of the bowl season, there’s hope this might be a battle worthy of the high-tech aspects.

Here’s Why Air Force Will Win The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

South Alabama is just okay at stopping the run. The Jaguar defensive front is great at times at getting behind the line, but it struggled against the Georgia Southern option attack – giving up 304 yards and three scores in the loss – and got hit for 175 yards or more nine times. Air Force will get 175 yards in pregame warmups.

Air Force is more than just okay at stopping the run. The Falcons have faced its share of dangerous ground games, and only New Mexico had any luck. Navy and it’s phenomenal attack? 57 yards. Boise State? Stuff for 84. Seven teams failed to hit the 100-yard mark against the swarming Air Force defense that doesn’t miss a stop, and forget about second-level runs thanks to …

Weston Steelhammer and a rock of a Falcon back seven. One of the best defenders in the Mountain West over the last four years, Steelhammer has done it all from his safety spot. This year, he came up with six picks and 4.5 tackles for loss, but he’s at his best coming up with stops in the open field. He led the team with 75 tackles, but he’s not alone when it comes to clamping down on ball-carriers.

Here’s Why South Alabama Will Win The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

USA has to own third downs. Air Force lives on time of possession, long marches, and keeping its defense off the field. The running game creates a slew of easy third down chances, but the strong Jaguar defensive front might just be able to stop it all before it gets going. Randy Allen is one of the nation’s best playmakers behind the line, coming up with 11.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. The USA D will show up.

Okay, Gerald Everett. Time to go off. The USA star tight end has next-level skills and might turn out to be the best player on the field – and he has to play like it. He led the team with 49 catches for 71 yards and four scores, but he tailed off as the season went on. While he won’t get many yards after the catch against this Falcon D, he needs to move the chains.

No one throws well on the USA secondary. Allen and the pass rush have plenty to do with that, but this is a strong defensive backfield, too. The Jaguars allow just 172 passing yards per game, and while Air Force doesn’t throw, it hits the big plays – mostly to Jalen Robinette – when it does. Stop the home run ball, and the Falcon offense bogs down at times. USA can do that.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Still not quite convinced this is worth your time to watch during a who day full of bowls? It’s probably going to be a close dogfight. Six of the last ten Air Force games were decided by a touchdown or less, while South Alabama eight games decided by seven points or fewer.

Air Force could use a decent bowl win. Air Force will always have a talent-gap issue, but the biggest problem is time. Give a team several weeks to prepare for the option and the good ones will figure it out. Okay, so that hasn’t really been the case in the recent losses – losing three of the last four, even though the O, for the most part, worked – but the defense couldn’t stop Cal last year, or Rice or Toledo in previous bowls. Air Force is an ugly 3-6 in bowls since 2000.

This could be a breakthrough moment in a breakthrough season for Joey Jones. Not really on anyone’s radar in the coaching carousel, Jones has done a wonderful job in an interesting situation at South Alabama. A win would make this the first seven-win campaign since the program joined the Sun Belt, and it would be the first bowl win in school history – it lost the 2014 Camellia to Bowling Green. Win this, combine it with the victories over Mississippi State and San Diego State, and this would be a huge stepping-stone moment.

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl?

Can the South Alabama defensive front really handle the Air Force offense? Sort of.

The line will keep the Falcons from running amok, but the bigger problem will be the USA offense getting anything going against this Air Force D.

Jaguar QB Dallas Davis will make just enough plays to keep the game alive, but he’ll also turn it over just enough to give Air Force a few easy chances.

Expect a fight, but the Mountain West will get the win – and Air Force will have a ten-win season.

Final Score

Air Force 31, South Alabama 26


Air Force -13, o/u: 57

ATS Confidence: 3.5
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0: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score after covering a College Football Playoff semifinal

Must See Rating: 3
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NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl History, Results

Dec. 29, 2015 Nevada 28 Colorado State 23

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