CSU Rams (2-8, 2-4 Mountain West) vs. Air Force (7-3, 3-3)

When/where: 7 p.m. Saturday, Falcon Stadium

TV/Radio: FS2/1600 AM, 98.1 FM

Line: Air Force -21.5, 42.5 over/under

Weather: 21 degrees, clear

What to know

Been a long, lonely time: CSU hasn’t won at the Academy since 2002. That autumn is also, and probably not a coincidence, the last one to date in which the Rams won a conference title, in Sonny Lubick’s ninth year at the helm.

Six a charm?: With a win, Air Force would post a sixth victory at Falcon Stadium this season, tying the mark for the most home wins in a season under coach Troy Calhoun. It would be the first time it happened over seven games (6-1) in The Calhoun Era, though. The longtime Zoomies coach has posted 6-0 records at home on four other occasions, most recently in 2019.

Horton Watch, Part I: With at least 35 receiving yards, wideout Tory Horton will eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in that category for the season. Once he passes the milestone, it’ll mark the eighth consecutive non-pandemic season in which a Rams receiver has had at least 1,000 yards in receptions.

Horton Watch, Part II: Horton’s punt return average of 18.1 yards per runback would be the second-best single-season rate in CSU history — once he’s reached a minimum of 1.2 returns per game to qualify. Barring health or a historically disastrous defensive performance (and we can’t rule the latter out), Horton should become qualified against the Falcons.

Key matchups

CSU QB Clay Millen vs. Air Force S Trey Taylor: In the seven games in which the Zoomies have opened the second quarter with a lead, they’ve won. The three while trailing? Three defeats. It goes without saying, but the best way to beat an efficient option team is to make said option team have to play from behind.

CSU S Jack Howell vs. Air Force FB Brad Roberts: You’ll never completely stop the FB dive, but can you at least slow it down a little? In the Falcons’ three defeats, the powerful Roberts, a Ralston Valley High School alum, posted an average of 23 carries, 93.3 yards and 4.0 per tote — 1.3 yards per carry below his usual clip (5.3).

Predictions

Sean Keeler, sports columnist: AFA 28, CSU 6

Air Force ranks second in the Mountain West in fewest red-zone touchdowns allowed (nine in 10 games). CSU ranks last in the country in red-zone touchdowns converted (four in 10 games). The Falcons are giving up an average of 13.2 points per game at home. If the Rams don’t have much left in the emotional tank after that heartbreaker vs. Wyoming, this one could get ugly. Quick.

Matt Schubert, deputy sports editor: AFA 23, CSU 10

CSU is really good at hanging around and making things interesting late — and exceptional at breaking Rams’ fans hearts with end-of-game flops. On the bright side, at least the Stalwart faithful won’t have to deal with the latter Saturday night.

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