Boise State started a new era this season, as head coach Brian Harsin left for Auburn. In his place, Andy Avalos takes over after two successful years coordinating the defense at Oregon.
However, Avalos hasn’t exactly crushed it on defense in 2021. Boise State allowed 36 points to UCF and 41 points to Nevada in two losses. They also allowed 443 yards to Utah State despite giving up only 3 points.
Overall, Boise State’s defense ranks 64th in my adjusted success rate. However, overall success rate is not the best metric in evaluating how they will perform against Air Force.
Air Force is a triple option team that runs the ball on over 85% of their plays. Boise State has been poor on run defense, as they rank 90th in my adjusted success rate. Air Force should be able to move the ball.
Boise State has been better on offense. QB Hank Bachmeier and WR Khalid Shakir have excelled in 2021, as Boise State’s pass offense ranks 25th in my adjusted success rate.
It might seem like Air Force has a decent pass defense. When I first started running The Power Rank, I worked with yards per pass attempt, a metric that accounts for negative sack yards. In my adjusted yards per pass attempt, Air Force’s pass defense ranks 61st.
However, the analytics community has moved forward over the past decade. In particular, Bill Connelly showed that success rate is a more predictive metric that filters out the noise from explosive plays.
While Air Force’s pass defense ranks 61st by adjusted yards per pass attempt, they rank 80th in adjusted success rate. Most likely, they have been fortunate in preventing explosive plays. Boise State should be able to throw the ball against Air Force.
A triple option team like Air Force often finds itself in a low scoring game. Even if the offense can score, the clock keeps running as they grind out the ground game. However, Boise State should quicken this game, as they average 2.5 plays per minute (41st in FBS).
Both offenses should enjoy an advantage based on the match ups discussed here. In addition, my model predicts a total of 53.7 points. This suggests value on over 50.5.
Football betting with a PhD edge
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