Air Force vs Michigan State: 5 bold predictions

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Sep 12, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas (8) celebrates after a play during the fourth quarter against the Oregon Ducks at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans beat the Ducks 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After Michigan State‘s 31-28 take-down of No. 7 Oregon last Saturday, the Spartans have risen to No. 4 in both major polls while even garnering two first-place votes in the AP poll. Many national pundits now have Michigan State as one of their four playoff teams.

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That could all come crashing down if MSU takes Air Force and its tricky triple-option attack lightly.

Ironically, “Air Force” does nearly all of its damage on the ground, averaging 66 rushing attempts per game and ranking second in the nation in rushing offense with 411 rushing yards per contest.

The Falcons have been running the triple-option offense to perfection for decades. What they lack in talent, they make up for in scheme by confusing defenses and taking advantage of  mistakes. The key to defeating Air Force’s attack is to stay disciplined and play fundamentally sound defense.

“With a triple-option team like this, if you’re not disciplined and you’re just out there trying to make tackles all over the field, you’re going to look bad because with all the optioning and different kind of handoffs, you might think one guy has the ball and another might be going up the sidelines with it.

That’s why they say tackle every man because if you don’t do your job it’s going to be a long day for you,” defensive end Demetrius Cooper told

Michigan State has prepared for the triple-option dating back to bowl practice last season when it was expecting to play Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl before a surprise shuffle in the final CFP rankings sent the Spartans to the Cotton Bowl against Baylor.

Mark Dantonio added further prep for Air Force during periods in spring ball and fall camp to ensure the Spartans would be ready to stop this type of offense. Will they be up to the challenge?

Let’s take a look at 5 bold predictions for when the Spartans take on the 2-0 Falcons Saturday.

Next: 5. MSU's stout run defense