2014 Potato Bowl final score: 3 things we learned from Air Force’s 38-24 mauling
The Falcons’ ground game tells Western Michigan, “Later, taters.”
On the blue turf in Boise, Air Force’s vaunted triple option mashed Western Michigan as the Falcons won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, 38-24. The Falcons finish the season at 10-3, their first double-digit win season since 1998 and a massive turnaround from 2013′s wretched 2-10 season.
This was Air Force’s third and final game of the season without immaculately-named running back Jacobi Owens, a 1,000-yard rusher in his ten games before a foot injury ended his 2014 campaign, and to compensate the Falcons went heavy with fullback action out of the triple option—with devastating results. Shayne Davern topped the century mark with 101 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Falcon offense, including a rumbling 55-yard dive up the middle early in the second quarter that gave Air Force a 13-10 lead it would not relinquish. Fellow fullback D.J. Johnson added 20 rushes for 83 yards and another score, mostly in second half action as the Falcons salted the game away.
The Air Force defense was the star of the show, especially down the stretch as Western Michigan tried to mount a comeback. WMU had a go-ahead touchdown on a punt return called back for a block in the back, and on the ensuing drive the Falcons defense pushed the lead back to two possessions on a scoop-and-score by Dexter Walker. A Broncos fourth down attempt was snuffed out by the Falcon D on the next drive, and that was that.
Three things we learned
1. The Mountain West is the clear class of the Group of 5. Air Force’s victory pushes the Falcons to 10-3, as mentioned earlier, which makes four Mountain West teams in double-digit victories for the 2014 season (incidentally, they’re all in the Mountain Division). Boise State won the division and will face Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl to show for it—finally, a minor BCS bowl for Boise State! Okay, we don’t call them BCS anymore, but you know what we mean.
2. Physicality is still a problem for the MAC.. Western Michigan came prepared to play and gave Air Force a fair fight, but when you can’t stop a ground game your prospects for winning are, well, diminished at best. The reason the MAC struggles so often against higher competition isn’t the level of quality or sophistication from its coaches, and it’s not athleticism at the skill positions. It’s just about losing the battles up front over and over. Northern Illinois is the exception that proves the rule, and wouldn’t you know it: NIU hasn’t missed a MAC title game since 2009. The rest of the MAC needs to catch up to the Huskies’ level of strength or else results like this will keep happening.
3. Potatoes appreciate umbrellas.