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Home on the Range

Wyoming has already taken care of all its trophy games this season, beating Hawaii, Utah State and Colorado State, but the Pokes' game with the Falcons has developed into somewhat of a rivalry, even if no trophy is involved. Wyoming beat both its Front Range foes in successive weeks last year to kick off a successful Mountain West season. Doing so again this year would go a long way to keeping Wyoming's hopes of a conference championship alive.

Meaningful Mountain meeting

Speaking of conference championship hopes, Saturday's game is the most important game on Wyoming's remaining schedule in that regard. The Cowboys will need some help from Boise State, two losses to be exact, if they want to repeat as the Mountain Division's representative in the conference title game. And having a strong divisional record will be key if the Broncos, Cowboys and Colorado State tie with two conference losses. Wyoming is 3-1 in divisional play so far this season, and the game against the Falcons ends a five-game string of Mountain Division foes for Wyoming.

New set of faces

Air Force is accustomed to handling significant turnover as an academy school that relies heavily on seniors. But still, returning just one defensive starter isn't normal for anyone. Linebacker Grant Ross holds that title for the Falcons. No team has allowed more rushing yards per attempt than Air Force this season (6.42) and no team has faced fewer passing attempts (172). Army didn't pass the ball once in its win over Air Force last week.

Grounded Falcons 

Air Force has faced its share of tough stretches this season. The Falcons began the year with just one win in its first five games, and that was against VMI of the Football Championship Subdivision. After posting a three-game winning streak in conference play to follow that four-game losing streak, Air Force was shut out last week for the first time in 25 years, losing 21-0 to Army. That ended a streak of 306 games in which the Falcons had scored. Air Force ran all of 47 plays in that game, something that won't be repeated against a Wyoming team that has lost the time of possession battle in all but two games this year.

Option redux

The worst-case scenario for Wyoming might be that this year's defense is the exact opposite of last year's when it comes to the option. The 2016 Cowboys were absolutely destroyed by New Mexico's triple option but returned the favor with a seven-takeaway performance in 2017. Last year, Wyoming contained Air Force's triple option, which has its fair share of differences from New Mexico's. The Falcons' second-worst performance of the year in total yardage came in Laramie.

Road trip 

Air Force is the only team in the Mountain Division that Craig Bohl beat two of his first three years in Wyoming. The Cowboys defeated the Falcons 17-13 in Bohl's second game as head coach, before losing 31-17 in 2015 on the road and winning 35-26 last year at home. Wyoming last won at the Air Force Academy in 2013, 56-23. In fact, the Cowboys have won four of their last six against the Falcons after a five-game skid, but Air Force leads the overall series 28-24-3.

This article originally ran on trib.com.

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