After a huge win against Oregon last week, No. 4 Michigan State is doing what it can to assure there is no hangover this week against Air Force. The Spartans have been efficient in the passing game but have struggled to get the running game going in the first half against the visiting Falcons. Michigan State owns a 28-7 halftime lead regardless.
Connor Cook (9-13-0, 158 yards, 3 TDs) opened the scoring midway through the first quarter with the first of his three touchdown passes. The first went to Josiah Price from 15 yards out. The second and third came later in the second quarter to Aaron Burbridge from 28 yards and 32 yards, respectively. That gave Michigan State a little more breathing room entering the halftime break. The other Spartans touchdown was scored on a fumble returned for a touchdown by safety RJ Williamson.
Michigan State has managed just 34 rushing yards at the half despite trying to run the ball 20 times. Credit the Air Force defense for not allowing that to take off. Of course, Air Force’s offense is too one dimensional to keep pace with Michigan State. Air Force has negative passing yards (-1 yard on one pass attempt by Karson Roberts), but the Falcons have rushed for 131 yards.
Air Force seemed like a team that could give Michigan State a bit more than the Spartans could bargain for coming off a big win against Oregon. Unfortunately for the Falcons, it will have to bid for the upset without its starting quarterback. According to The Gazette, Air Force quarterback Nate Romine tore his right ACL and MCL last weekend in a win against San Jose State.
Romine reportedly shared his injury status on his private Facebook account, which was relayed by Air Force radio broadcaster Jim Arthur on Twitter. The injury occurred in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game. Air Force has not updated Romine’s status as of yet. The starting quarterback still remains on top of the depth chart for the Falcons heading in to the Michigan State game this week.
Romine had completed seven of his 18 pass attempts for 143 yards and two touchdowns with one interception thrown. He also rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown for Air Force in the first two games of the season.
Without Romine, Air Force will likely go to senior Karson Roberts, who is second on the depth chart. Roberts played in three games last season but did not attempt any passes. He had one carry. He did play in 10 games in 2013, including three games in which he started for Air Force. Backing him up will be junior Pate Davis, who is listed third on the depth chart as well. Davis has not played in a game since 2013, when he appeared in one game and did not record any stats (against Notre Dame).
Navy’s defense shutout Air Force in the second half and the Midshipmen rallied to come back and pull away from the Falcons Saturday in Annapolis, Maryland. Navy’s Keenan Reynolds rushed for over 100 yards and three touchdowns to lead Navy to a 28-10 victory over Air Force.
Air Force was hurt by three turnovers in the game, including a fourth quarter interception by Karson Roberts on a drive that started from deep in their own territory. Navy took advantage of the turnover, with Reynolds using his legs to power up the middle of a short field and plunging in to the end zone for a score to make it a two-score game. The two teams were heavy on the run of course, combing for 504 rushing yards.
Navy now can clinch the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for a second straight season. To do so they will need to defeat Army at the end of the regular season in Philadelphia. The winner of the Air Force-Navy game has won the trophy each of the past 16 seasons. Army’s last time winning the trophy came in 1996. Ken Niumatalolo is now 9-2 as a head coach against Air Force and Army.
A total of 38,255 fans were on hand for the game in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. While that number may not seem impressive to fans of big time college football programs from coast to coast, the attendance figure was a record high for Navy’s home football stadium.
Air Force and Navy are locked up in exactly the kind of match-up you would expect these two service academies to be involved in. Heavy on the run with a good dose of defense. The result at the half is a 10-7 lead for the visiting Air Force Falcons.
The teams have combined for 89 passing yards between Air force’s Karson Roberts and Navy’s Keenan Reynolds. The teams have rushing attempts by 13 different players for a combined 233 rushing yards at the half. The game itself has been pretty clean so far as well, with just one penalty assessed to Air Force for five yards and zero turnovers.
The winner of this game will get the inside track on the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, awarded to the winner of the three-way competition between Air Force, Navy and Army. The winner of the Air Force-Navy game has won the trophy each of the past 16 years. Air Force hosts Army on November 2 and Navy will face Army in the annual Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia on December 14.
Air Force has lost three straight games and now has lost their starting quarterback. Jaleel Awini has been suspended and is no longer a cadet in good standing.
“Air Force Academy Cadet Third Class (C3C) Jaleel Awini is no longer a cadet in good standing and is not allowed to represent the Academy in any outside activities, effective immediately,” a statement released by the academy reads. Awini completed 21 of 42 pass attempts for 275 yards this season and quickly took over as the team’s starting quarterback following the injury to Kale Pearson. Awini had previously been on academic probation, although it is not confirmed Awini’s academic standing has factored in to this latest roster change.
“All cadets are held to the same high standards –- honor, physical fitness, academics and military aptitude — and each case is handled on its own individual merits,” the release explained. “Holding each cadet to these high standards promotes good order and discipline throughout the institution.”
Sophomore Karson Roberts will likely be the new starting quarterback for Air Force, with the Falcons traveling to Nevada this weekend. Roberts has thrown six passes this season.