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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Now that the jitters have worn off, it seems like we have a game.
BYU dominated on both offense and defense early and looked as though it was going to dominate the game. But during the second quarter, Air Force settled down and gave the Cougars a challenge.
Air Force's momentum was kicked off by a 26-yard punt return that set up the Falcons first score. Air Force must have been reading the blog because it varied up its offense with reverses to move down the field effectively against a BYU defense that was keying on some of the more tradition running plays the Falcons used through most of the first half.
The reverses have kept BYU's players honest and opened up some running lanes for Todd Newell, who has 94 yards at halftime.
Defensively, the Falcons have done a better job of getting to quarterback Max Hall and making him force some errant throws. The defense had three sacks and four tackles for loss in the first half.
The Falcons' key stop of the game was a tipped pass in the red zone that led to an interception in the end zone with 11 seconds remaining.
The thing that BYU has going for it is that Air Force is playing a soft zone, which is leaving a lot of receivers uncovered. The Cougars aren't having a lot of trouble moving the ball downfield, just capitalizing when down there.
Both teams have hurt themselves with stupid penalties, including a couple of false start penalties by BYU in key situations. Although it's a full stadium, I can't imagine it's that loud down on the field. But there is a lot of undisciplined football going on by both teams.
Air Force has the momentum heading into halftime and it helps that it gets the ball to start the second half. Through the first half, BYU looked like the better team, but the rest of the way Air Force has played confident and tough.
There was some question about whether BYU had gotten its swagger back after last week's blowout against San Diego State, and for the first 15 minutes it appeared to be true. But that swagger turned into frustration as the Cougars walked off the field with their heads down. The interception was not a good finish for a team that hasn't handled adversity well on the road lately, and I'm not sure BYU can hope for another road miracle like it received at Colorado State.