HONOLULU (AP) — Either Air Force or Hawaii will end an unwanted streak when they face off in Honolulu on Saturday.
The Falcons (4-3, 3-1 Mountain West) have yet to win a game on the road this season while the Rainbow Warriors (2-6, 0-4) have lost five consecutive games.
The Falcons rank third nationally with 333 yards rushing per game. In a win over Fresno State last week, they ran 79 times — the most attempts in the conference this season — for a season-high 428 yards, including 178 in the fourth quarter. The 90 offensive plays they ran against the Bulldogs were the most in a game in the conference this year.
The Rainbow Warriors are allowing an average of 229 yards rushing per game, second-worst in the league and 115th in the country.
“We just have to do the best we can,” Hawaii coach Norm Chow said. “It’s assignment football and you can’t miss. If one guy misses it’s a long gain, so it’s hard.”
Hawaii, the lone Mountain West team without a league win, has struggled on both sides of the ball. Its offense averages just under 18 points and 294 yards of total offense. Defensively, it allows nearly 32 points and 422 yards per game.
“They’re physical and they’re fast,” said Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. “They’re really, really, really good on defense.”
All four of Air Force’s victories have come at home. It has yet to hold a lead on the road this year in losses at Michigan State, Navy and Colorado State.
A few things to look for when the Rainbow Warriors host the Falcons:
HELLO AGAIN: Saturday’s game will mark the 20th time the teams have played, including the first time in Honolulu since 2001, when Hawaii won 52-30. Air Force won the last meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2012. The Falcons lead the all-time series 12-6-1. The winner of Saturday’s game will claim the Kuter Trophy, which is named after Gen. Laurence S. Kuter, the first head of the Pacific Air Forces Command.
OPTIONS ABOUND: Hawaii will be facing its second option attack in a span of 14 days. It surrendered 220 yards rushing (4.4 yards per rush) in a 28-27 loss at New Mexico on Oct. 17. “They all do things different,” Chow said of Air Force’s version of the triple-option when compared to New Mexico. “Even the three service academies do things just a little bit differently.” The Falcons average 5.4 yards per carry and have 24 rushing touchdowns on the season. “We’ve seen (the option), the problem is you can’t simulate the speed of it. We’re trying like heck to get ourselves ready,” Chow said.
NO SACKS FOR YOU: Air Force is one of two teams in the nation that has yet to allow a sack. The other is Toledo. The Falcons have attempted just 76 passes this season. Senior quarterback Karson Roberts has gone 29 of 55 for 458 yards this season with one touchdown and four interceptions. Roberts earned Mountain West Conference Player of the Week honors after rushing for a career-high four touchdowns and getting his first receiving TD in last week’s win over Fresno State.
BACKS AGAINST THE WALL: The Rainbow Warriors, who were 2-1 at one point this year, must win their final five games to become bowl-eligible. They last appeared in a bowl game in 2010, when they lost to Tulsa 62-35 in the Hawaii Bowl. The Falcons need to win three of their final five contests to reach bowl eligibility. They have appeared in a bowl game in seven of the past eight seasons, including a 38-24 win over Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl last December.
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