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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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It?s all a game of numbers against Air Force

By Nick Pappas

Football is a game of numbers. I spend hours every week crunching the numbers of my three fantasy football teams. If you want to really find out how good your team is doing, spend some time looking at their total yards, the yards they allow and where they’re ranked in the conference.

Sometimes the most telling number is zero.

Zero is how many points Pac-10 elitist UCLA scored on BYU last week. Zero is the number of wins the PAC-10 has on Mountain West teams. Zero is the number of losses the Top 4 teams in the conference have combined.

Zero is the number of losses any of these teams needs to break through the BCS.

As Utah continues through its conference schedule, these are the teams the Utes will need to beat every week to have a chance. In a league that has had its ups and downs, this year could be the year the Mountain West earns the respect it deserves.

Perhaps the greatest challenge, even more than BYU, is tomorrow’s game. Air Force is a team that has always had our number. They run an offense that the Utes just can’t seem to figure out. Of all the teams in the Mountain West, Utah only has a losing record against Air Force. On the ground, the Falcons average 358 yards a game8212;first in the conference, second in the country. Yet, Air Force quarterback Shea Smith has only thrown the ball 28 times the entire season. Speaking of the number zero, that’s how many completions Smith had against Houston last week.

Ironically, Air Force feels much more comfortable on the ground. The team defeated Houston 31-28 last Saturday, and didn’t complete one pass the entire game. Head coach Kyle Whittingham should take out his secondary and put 11 linemen in the game. The Falcons run and they do it well. Coach Troy Calhoun calls tails on passing and then flips a two-headed quarter.

If Utah is going to win a tough road game, they’re going to need to make the Falcons pass. The team has the personnel to do it. The Utes are ranked No. 15 in the entire country in run defense. Nai Fotu and the linebackers need to plug every hole. Paul Kruger and the defensive ends need to break the wishbone and end up with the bigger half.

Most importantly, the Utes can’t shoot themselves in the foot. While Air Force may lack the talent and size of Utah, they make up for it with discipline8212;something the Utes have sorely lacked. There is no excuse now for another fumbled return. The quarterback could have thrown the ball right to Utah State players and they still would have won. Air Force, on the other hand, knows how to capitalize on every mistake.

It’s a game of numbers. If the stat line shows Air Force throwing a lot of passes, Utah will win the game. Like every game this season, it’s a win the Utes need.

Otherwise, our chances of breaking the bubble of the BCS will be exactly zero.

[email protected]

Nick Pappas

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