The Air Force Falcons narrow loss against San Diego State on Saturday knocked them out of the USA Today, AP, and Harris Interactive polls. The good news is that Air Force's opponent this week is against the TCU Horned Frogs who are a consensus top five team in all of the polls.
Last year, Air Force gave TCU their biggest challenge prior to the Fiesta Bowl in a 20-17 that featured freezing rain, but this year's matchup is in Fort Worth so weather will not be an issue. Air Force can get back into the rankings with an upset win over TCU, but here is a list of a few games that can have an effect on Air Force's ranking, which will only happen in a win.
The BCS standings are what ultimately count in college football, so that is what the rankings below will represent, and as usual all times will be represented in the mountain time zone.
Duke Blue Devis @ #25 Virginia Tech Hokies (ESPN Gamplan 10 a.m.)
Do not laugh at this possibility, do not forget that Virginia Tech lost fo James Madison out of the FCS back in week two. Since then, the Hokies are on a five game winning streak, and the only hiccup was an early deficit to East Carolina before ending the game in a route. Preseason all-ACC running back Ryan Williams has been out of action for the past four games with a hamstring injury, and may see a handful of carries against Duke.
Arkansas is coming off a shootout loss to Auburn this past weekend, but instead the Hogs were left think about what if they had won. The good news is that Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett looks to be back in the lineup after leaving the game after a hard hit. The SEC is pretty wide open this year and Ole Miss has Jeremiah Masoli who has been so-so this year, as has the team.
The big news from Ole Miss this year was choosing a new mascot, which was won by that bear, and not Admiral Ackbar. Below is a concession speech from one of the other candidates, Hotty Toddy:
But of course it is no Ackbar, and here is just an excuse to play this video (extended version):
#22 Kansas State Wildcats @ Baylor Bears (NONE 1:30 p.m.)
Excluding the beat down against Nebraska, Kansas State has been a pretty good football team this year and just smoked their rival Kansas. Now, they are up against one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in college football in Robert Griffin III. Griffin has twenty combined touchdowns on the year, and has Baylor just one win away from their first bowl game in Big XII history.
This is not the Baylor of a few years ago who teams wanted on their schedule for homecoming. Kansas State will use their rushing attack to control the time of possession to keep the ball out of Griffin's hands as much as possible. The 'Cats are lead by Daniel Thomas who is averaging 130 yards per game on the year, so look for him to get a ton of carries.
UAB Blazers @ #24 Mississippi State Bulldogs (ESPNU 5 p.m.)
To me it is odd to see Mississippi State in the rankings, especially after they sneaked by a bad Florida team 10-7. Now, the Bulldogs must turn their attention to the 2-4 UAB Blazers and not fall victim to a let down game. Mississippi State should win this game, but they have not been in this position as a ranked team and a favorite in a very long time.
Air Force Falcons @ #5 TCU Horned Frogs (CBS College Sports 6 p.m.)
This is the game that really matter if Air Force gets ranked or not. The Falcons are thin at full back since Jared Tew broke his right fibula and will be out for six weeks. Tew has been a key cog in the Falcon offense. Tew's back up, Nathan Walker, is a capable replacement but the third spot is where the Falcons have issues.
For good any defense is the Falcon triple option offense can get yards on any defense, and should be able to move the ball against TCU this weekend. The Falcon defense is what needs to step up if they want to win and get back in the rankings. TCU is capable of beating teams running the ball or passing the ball, so Air Force will have to play a great defensive game to try to slow down their offense. The running game is a concern since Ronnie Hillman ran for just under 200 yards, and TCU has Ed Wesley to run the ball.
In short, the Falcons will need to create some turnovers like they did in last years game, slow down the TCU offense, and get touchdowns and not field goals. That is a full plate, but that is also why TCU is a top five team.
These are the games that have an effect on Air Force's potential ranking, but it all comes down to beating TCU and if they do they will be ranked.