Preview: South Alabama at Air Force

When: 5:30 PM ET, Friday, December 30, 2016
Where: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona




NOVA HOME LOANS ARIZONA BOWL STORYLINES

1. South Alabama came out strong with a win at Mississippi State in its season opener but did not win another road game the rest of the way and had to scramble to become bowl eligible. The Jaguars picked up a victory in their regular-season finale over New Mexico State to earn a spot in the Arizona Bowl against Air Force on Dec. 30 in Tucson, Ariz. The Falcons won five straight to close out the regular season, including a 27-20 triumph over then-No. 19 Boise State in the finale.

2. South Alabama is making the second bowl appearance in school history and is looking for its first win after falling to Bowling Green in the 2014 Camellia Bowl. The Jaguars showed an ability to get up for big games this season with the win over Mississippi State - the Sun Belt's lone triumph over an SEC team in 2016 - and a 42-24 thrashing of then-No. 19 San Diego State at home on Oct. 1. Each of South Alabama's final three losses and four of the six came by seven or fewer points.

3. Air Force hit a lull with three straight losses at the beginning of conference play but churned out the yards on the ground in the final five games. The Falcons are third among FBS teams with an average of 322.8 rushing yards and are averaging 34.3 points. Air Force is appearing in a bowl game for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons under head coach Troy Calhoun and is searching for its fourth win in that span.

TV:
5:30 p.m. ET, American Sports Network. LINE: Air Force -13

ABOUT SOUTH ALABAMA (6-6, 2-6 Sun Belt): Head coach Joey Jones led the Jaguars' transition to the FBS in 2012 and is confident despite being an underdog against Air Force. "We're going out there to win a bowl game, first and foremost," Jones told reporters. "Yes, we're going to have some great dinners and we're going to do some sightseeing, and that's a great experience, but we have to get the guys to understand it's time for business, and when we get away from those events we have to be ready to practice and ready for meetings." Jones, whose team already beat one Mountain West opponent this season in San Diego State, will lean on junior running back Xavier Johnson, who collected career highs of 154 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season finale.

ABOUT AIR FORCE (9-3, 5-3 Mountain West): The Falcons excel at the option attack and totaled 35 rushing touchdowns in the regular season from eight different players. Jacobi Owens led the team with 785 yards but was one of four rushers to total at least 600 on the season and tied for fifth with three TDs as Timothy McVey paced the team with 10 rushing scores. Air Force is led on defense by senior safety Weston Steelhammer, who became the first player in school history to be named first-team All-Mountain West three years in a row after leading the team with 75 tackles and boosting his career total to 17 interceptions with six more this season.



PREDICTION: Air Force 41, South Alabama 28

Stats and Records

Team Comparison

  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
South Alabama 6-6 W1 25.8 25.5 5-2 1-4 1-1 0-1 2-6
Air Force 9-3 W5 34.3 26.7 5-2 4-1 5-2 0-1 5-3

Last Meeting

South Alabama Air Force
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
No Previous Meeting.

Player Stats

Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
USA N/A
AFA N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
USA N/A
AFA N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
USA N/A
AFA N/A
TDs Player TD
USA N/A
AFA N/A
Season
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
USA D. Davis 58.0 2461 10 11
AFA N. Romine 41.7 1206 10 4
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
USA X. Johnson 147 787 5.4 10
AFA J. Owens 124 783 6.3 3
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
USA G. Everett 49 717 14.6 4
AFA J. Robinette 33 835 25.3 5
TDs Player TD
USA X. Johnson 11
AFA T. McVey 13

Quickchart Matchup

South Alabama Off vs  Air Force Def
395.8 yards
370.4 yards
4.1 yards/rush
3.4 yards/rush
7.5 yards/attempt
8.5 yards/attempt
Air Force Off vs  South Alabama Def
451.5 yards
384 yards
5.1 yards/rush
4.9 yards/rush
11 yards/attempt
6.8 yards/attempt

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

South Alabama Overall Air Force
6-6-0 W/L 9-3-0
3-9-0 ATS 5-7-0
5-6-1 O/U 7-5-0
25.8 Pts For 34.3
25.5 Pts Against 26.7
South Alabama A/H Air Force
1-4 W/L 5-2
1-4-0 ATS 3-4-0
2-3-0 O/U 4-3-0
23.4 Pts For 36.6
29.0 Pts Against 27.7
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