Around the Region Bowl Special: Baylor takes on run-heavy Air Force in Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Oct 29, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Blake Shapen (12) hands the ball to running back Richard Reese (29) in the first half during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium and Cody Campbell Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Around the Region Bowl Special: Baylor takes on run-heavy Air Force in Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

BAYLOR BEARS (6-6, 4-5 Big 12)

Bowl: Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl vs. Air Force (9-3, 5-3 Mountain West)

Location: Fort Worth, Texas

TV/Radio: ESPN/SiriusXM channel 199

The Baylor Bears finished the 2022 season 6-6, while falling just below .500 at 4-5 in Big 12 play. After winning the Big 12 Championship last season en route to a Sugar Bowl win over Ole Miss, a trip to the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl to take on Air Force may not be what most Baylor fans had in mind for this holiday season. The Bears stumbled to the finish line this year, dropping their final three games to the cream of the Big 12 crop in Kansas State, TCU, and Texas. 

Although Baylor’s campaign did not live up to expectations as a whole, there were several bright spots. The Bears seem to have a star on their hands in freshman running back Richard Reese, who finished the season with 963 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 5.1 per carry. With last-second losses against TCU, BYU, and West Virginia, there’s an argument to be made that Baylor could have easily finished its season 9-3. 

Air Force, who finished its season 9-3, presents a fascinating matchup for the Bears, unlike anything they encounter in the Big 12. The Falcons run a triple-option offense, meaning they almost exclusively run the football in a variety of creative ways. Air Force attempted only 80 passes as a team all season but led the nation with 330.9 yards per game on the ground. 

Quarterback Haaziq Daniels averages just over 10 carries per game, but running back Brad Roberts is the straw that stirs the drink for the Falcons. Roberts finished the regular season with 1,612 rushing yards, third-most in the nation and more than any other back in the Mountain West. 

Air Force’s defense is one of the best in the country as well. Opponents average just 13.3 points per game against the Falcons, giving them the fourth-best scoring defense in the nation – and when it comes to yardage, the 256.4 yards Air Force allows is number one in FBS.

The good news for Baylor is that Air Force is very predictable – the Falcons will do what they always do, so theoretically, the extra time to prepare should do wonders for the Bears. If nothing else, Baylor ought to have the more highly-ranked athletes almost everywhere on the field. Baylor scored 33.6 points per game this season with a well-balanced attack that looked unstoppable at times against Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Kansas. 

The Armed Forces Bowl is an audition of sorts for Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen, who hopes to remain the Bears’ starter next season. After four-star quarterback recruit Austin Novosad flipped his commitment from Baylor to Oregon, rumors began swirling as to whether Shapen would be the starter in 2023 or whether Baylor would look to the transfer portal to replace him. With a strong performance against one of the country’s best defenses, Shapen could leave a lasting impression as the offseason gets underway. 


Dec. 16, Duluth Trading Cure Bowl: Troy 18, UTSA 12

Dec. 17, LendingTree Bowl: Southern Miss 38, Rice 24

Dec. 17, New Mexico Bowl: BYU 24, SMU 23

Dec. 17, Frisco Bowl presented by SERVPRO: Boise State 35, North Texas 32

Dec. 28, TaxAct Texas Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss

Dec. 31, CFP Semifinal at the VRBO Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 TCU vs. No. 4 Michigan

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