Air Force vs. Rice: Armed Forces Bowl Breakdown
Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6)
Dec. 29, 11:45 a.m. ET (ESPN)
• Reason to watch: To be honest, there aren't many. Both teams are 6-6 and lack any truly impressive wins this season, with the possible exception of Air Force's Oct. 26 victory over Nevada. Still, the Falcons' ground game could make things interesting: Air Force boasts the second-ranked rushing attack in the FBS (328.8 yards per game), led by senior Cody Getz, who ran for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns. On the other sideline, Rice will look to continue its recent surge. Midway through the season, it was 1-5 and headed for its worst finish since 2009. But the Owls bounced back by winning five of their final six games, including a four-game winning streak to close out the year. Quarterback Taylor McHargue led the charge. He recorded 11 passing touchdowns and 11 rushing touchdowns in 2012.
• Keep an eye on: The rushing defenses. While Air Force and Rice consistently scored touchdowns via the ground, both struggled to slow opposing backs. The Falcons rank 97th in the FBS in rushing defense; the Owls are tied for 91st. Also, keep an eye on the style factor. Rice players will wear American flag-themed helmets for the game.
• Did you know: Teams from the armed forces are 2-2 when playing in the Armed Forces Bowl. Air Force has gone 1-2 in this game, while Army won in its only appearance in 2010.
• Final analysis: The Falcons' rushing attack should be too much for the Owls to handle. Getz has already recorded three 200-plus yard rushing performances on the year, and the 175-pounder could explode for a fourth against Rice's porous defense. Look for him to have a big day, and for Air Force to run past the Owls.
• The pick: Air Force 28, Rice 14