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Air Force Football A 'Dark Horse' Contender For Mountain West Conference Title

The Mountain West Conference will be undergoing changes over the next two seasons as both the BYU Cougars and the Utah Utes leave the conference this summer and the TCU Horned Frogs leave in 2012. The Boise St. Broncos enter in 2011 and will be joined by the Fresno St. Bulldogs, the Nevada Wolf Pack and the Hawai'i Warriors in 2012.

This could bode well for the Air Force Falcons to cement themselves as an upper-tier finisher in the conference. Since former Denver Broncos coach troy Calhoun returned to his alma mater in 2007, the Falcons have gone 34-18 during that time and finished as high as second (2007).

As Andrea Adelson writes in her post-spring Power Rankings for non-automatic qualifiers:

7. Air Force: The Falcons could be a dark horse contender in the Mountain West with Tim Jefferson returning at quarterback.

Boise State and TCU are Nos. 1 and 2 in the rankings, but No. 7 is a good showing for the Falcons. And they'll have an early-season test on Sept. 10 when they host TCU. The Falcons' game with Boise State on Oct. 22 is one of Adelson's non-AQ games to watch.

A fifth straight bowl appearance should be in reach for the Calhoun and the Falcons with Tim Jefferson running the offense.