Air Force has a few bitter memories of 2006. None was more painful than a November 24 meeting at UNLV that put the finishing touches of a season gone wrong.
``We had such high hopes at the end of the season,'' Air Force free safety Aaron Kirchoff said. ``We thought we'd win our last two games and get a bowl bid.''
``But we got stomped on at their house,'' he said. ``It was definitely a low point for us.''
Adding to the low point was the fact the Rebels ended a four game losing streak to Air Force. And UNLV snapped a 10-game losing streak.
``There couldn't have been a lower point for us,'' cornerback Carson Bird said. ``We certainly don't need to be motivated this time around.''
There are other factors in Saturday's matchup at the Air Force Academy between the Falcons (3-2, 2-1 Mountain West Conference) and Rebels (2-3, 1-0). First and foremost is that UNLV didn't have to wait 11 games into the season to get its first win as they did last year.
``The way they played Utah, to beat them 27-0, tells you this is a very good football team,'' Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. ``They matched up and actually had the lead on the No. 6 team in the country, Wisconsin, for 57 minutes of the game before losing 20-13.''
``That tells what they are capable of doing,'' Calhoun said.
The Rebels get it done with a grueling ground game led by huge 5-foot-10 inch, 240-pound Frank Summers and quarterback Travis Dixon.
``Frank Summers is built like former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis, who has good feet and balance that makes him hard to tackle,'' Calhoun said. ``There's times when you make a play two or three yards down field, you wind up just holding on and hoping that you can bring him to the turf.''
Dixon has completed 53 percent of his passes and averaged over three yards per carry running the ball. Summers and Dixon pose a concern to an Air Force defense that has given up 31 points each to BYU and Navy on successive weeks.
``There are some things that we've got to get corrected on defense,'' said Calhoun, who added that they can't get into shootouts.
That's because the Falcons have had trouble finishing drives with touchdowns. They kicked two field goals in a 31-6 loss to BYU and two long drives stalled and ended up in field goals in the 31-20 loss to Navy.
``I think we have to take responsibility as coaches and there are some plays that have to be made,'' Calhoun said. ``We had a pass play in the flat against Navy that we have to execute.''
``We have to execute better,'' said Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney, who needs 130 passing yards to become the school's all-time passing yardage leader.
A win by the Rebels would give UNLV it's first multiple road win season since 2003