Louisville vs Air Force
Louisville -102 over Air Force

Pinnacle -102 BET365 -105 SportInteraction -105 BetOnline -106 Bookmaker -110

Posted at 10:30 PM EST.

Louisville -102 over Air Force

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl -Gerald R. Ford Stadium – Abilene, TX

Streaming: ESPN

3:15 PM EST. The Falcons initially were as much as a two-point underdog before the efficient market stepped in and bet them down to where the Academy is now a small favorite (-1) depending on where one shops. In the buildup to the First Responder Bowl and even in the early stages of bowl analysis by many experts, the Falcons were a team circled by many talking heads as one of the better wagers of the Bowl season. You see, Air Force’s defense is one of the best in the country (on paper), fifth overall in total defense (288.8 yards per contest). Impressive at first glance indeed but some of these numbers are misleading because Air Force is a Triple Option team and as such holds the ball longer, which gives opponents less possessions by default.

Before we delve deeper, we must highlight that the Falcons’ vaunted defensive numbers came against the following: Army (an option team like Air Force), Navy (see Army), San Diego State (a team that is pretty much a carbon copy of the preceding two teams except they run the ball in your standard I formation), Wyoming (a team that cannot move the ball), New Mexico (a dreg), UNLV (another dreg), Florida Atlantic (another bottom-feeder), Colorado State (a cupcake), and Lafayette (a FCS team).

Against teams with any kind of offense, i.e. Nevada and Utah State, this same Air Force outfit gave up an average of over 40 points and either lost the game outright or required overtime to get the win. It was Air Force’s offense that bailed them out against the Wolf Pack and kept them in the game against Utah State. For what it’s worth neither the Wolf Pack or Aggies are known for their defensive acumen. Louisville isn’t known for its defense either but they do possess something that Utah State and Nevada did not, which is a dual-threat playmaker like Malik Cunningham under center which can be as novel for Air Force as their option attack may be to the Cardinals.

Air Force has the better record against both the spread (8-4) and overall (9-3) compared to the Cardinals who are 6-6 in both departments but once again, we couldn’t care less about numbers that are deceiving. Louisville’s six losses this season came against Kentucky (a team ranked as high as 11 this season), Clemson (a ranked side presently), NC State (a ranked side presently, as well), Ole Miss (in the top-10 currently), Wake Forest (undefeated and ranked when the two met), and Virginia (a bowl-eligible ACC team). Against Clemson, Wake Forest, and Virginia, the Cardinals lost by a combined 10 points. UL could have been 9-3 as quick as it was 6-6 had in-game variances not gone against them. Incidentally, none of the aforementioned sides could slow down Cunningham either.

Opposing a disrespected SEC is not the time to be backing the inferior Falcons. We're not particularly bullish on an Air Force team with glaring weaknesses that were hidden or masked because of a weak schedule. Louisville is by far the more battle-tested team that has rolled up its sleeves much more than Air Force and its padded résumé.

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Our Pick

Louisville -102 (Risking 2.04 units - To Win: 2.00)

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