Run, run, run: Air Force plays Baylor in Armed Forces Bowl

December 21, 2022 GMT
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Baylor running back Richard Reese (29) is stopped by Texas linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey (3) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Baylor running back Richard Reese (29) is stopped by Texas linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey (3) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Armed Forces Bowl: Baylor (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3), Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST (ESPN)

FanDuel Sportsbook College Line: Baylor by 4 1/2.

Series record: Baylor leads 3-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Air Force is making its sixth appearance in the Armed Forces Bowl, the most by any team. The Falcons have won there only once, but ended this regular season with a four-game winning streak and have won their last three bowls overall since a loss to California in the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl. Baylor is trying to avoid a losing season. The Bears have a three-game losing streak, all to ranked teams, but have won four of their last five bowl games. Baylor and Air Force last played in 1977.

KEY MATCHUP

Brad Roberts has a school-record 1,612 yards rushing (134.3 per game) for Air Force, which leads the nation with 330.9 yards rushing per game. Baylor has allowed 138 yards rushing a game with its defense on the field only about 27 1/2 minutes a game. The Falcons are the nation’s best ball-control offense, holding the ball for more than 36 minutes a game. The Bears allowed three 100-yard rushers in their last four games, after only one before that.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Baylor: Richard Reese has rushed for 962 yards, a Baylor freshman record, and 14 touchdowns. He was tabbed by Big 12 coaches as the conference’s offensive freshman of the year. He has three 100-yard rushing games.

Air Force: Sophomore nose guard Payton Zdroik has six consecutive games with a tackle for loss, and had a fumble recovery in the last game. He eight TFLs and 4 1/2 quarterback sacks.

FACTS & FIGURES

The game is played on the TCU campus, where Baylor has lost five of its last seven games. ... Only one team scored more than 21 points this season against Air Force, which has allowed only 16.6 points per game over the past two seasons. ... The Falcons beat Army 13-7 on Nov. 5 in the Commander’s Classic played at Globe Life Field, the home stadium of the MLB’s Texas Rangers that is about 20 miles from the TCU campus. ... Both teams have 14 bowl victories — Air Forces is 14-13-1, and Baylor is 14-12.

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