The CiC, a rematch with the Buff’s and the usual FCS Appetizer:
June has arrived, which means we are a new month closer to the start of the college football season! The Air Force spring camp concluded long before the ground thawed, back in March. Since then, the official release of the 2022 season schedule has dropped, giving plenty of opportunities for Falcon fans to start penciling in projected wins.
For those boldly tallying their record in ink, it’s worth taking a closer look at the out of conference schedule that awaits. This year non-conference matchups are pretty familiar foes, with the exception of their FCS matched season opener, by way of the Northern Iowa Panthers.
After their bout with UNI, the real competition comes into the frame. Air Force plays Colorado and Navy at home in weeks two and five, before heading to Arlington again to face Army in their ninth game. If you follow SP +, you’ll be pleased to know that these are all expected victories for the Falcons. Oh, if it were only that easy though. Let’s get to know this year out of conference foes a little better.
In 2021 (fall season) the Panthers finished 6-6 overall (4-4 Missouri Valley Conference). If you’re not familiar with FCS landscape, the Missouri Valley Conference is brutally competitive with each of the Dakota’s and Missouri State to name a few. One of their losses was a very respectable 16-10 defeat at Ames, to the Iowa State Cyclones.
In 2022 the Panthers should be plenty competitive again. Of their 17 incoming signees, three of which come from respected FBS ranks (Iowa State, West Virginia and Iowa). That will be building on last years MVC Newcomer of the Year, quarterback Theo Day who returns. Day is a Michigan State transfer, and has made an immediate impact for Northern Iowa.
The Falcons and Panthers have never met previous to 2022. However, the Troy Calhoun led Falcon’s have never lost an FCS opponent.
The 2020 Buff’s went 4-2 overall (3-1 PAC 12) in the pandemic shortened season, giving hope to the fans in Boulder. The 2021 season looked promising for Colorado, right until they played a game against a FBS opponent, which was a 30-0 drubbing to the wildly mediocre Minnesota Golden Gophers of the B1G. Things didn’t get much better from there, seeing the Buff’s win only three games against FBS competition, going 4-8 overall (3-6 PAC 12).
In 2022, one might think the heartbreak that follows expectations should be avoided if last year is any indication, right? Tackling machine, Nate Landman is gone, and was the lone Colorado player to crack the PAC 12’s All-Conference Team. Colorado’s historic dominance over Air Force won’t be alone to promise a victory over a Falcons squad game. Just ask the 2019 Buffaloes.
In what is rare occasion, the Midshipmen are coming off back-to-back down years under coach Ken Niumatalolo. Navy got off to a slow start in 2021, which featured a severe beating from Marshall before getting whipped by Air Force for a second season in a row. The Mid’s went on to finish 4-8 overall (3-5 AAC), on a two game winning streak. The final win of the season coming against Army. You might say Navy is ready to turn things around.
The last team on the Falcon’s out of conference slate looks to be by far the tallest order. Army.
Army has had Air Force’s number in recent years, and ultimately spoiling the Falcons quest for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. The thing that matters most to all the Service Academies is the CiC, and Army has kept Air Force from it for far too long if you were to ask anyone in Colorado Springs.
Like a well oiled machine, Army’s adjusted to serious roster transition year after year, and hasn’t really lost a beat. They compete independently, so they benefit from not having the rigors of a Conference schedule. But they also take care of business against most of the teams they face. Army finished 2021 9-4, which was the second consecutive nine win campaign for Jeff Monken’s bunch.
This season will see Air Force and Army play in Arlington, Texas for the second straight year, competing in the Commander’s Classic. The Cadets from West Point got the best of the Falcons in overtime last year. Since the 2022 game against Army on November 5th comes after their contest with Navy, Air Force will have either ended or extended their CiC drought before the first Sunday of November.