2023 Armed Forces Bowl – Air Force vs James Madison

2023 Armed Forces Bowl – Air Force vs James Madison

posted December 20

The Game

We’ve got a good-looking Armed Forces Bowl on the docket as the feisty James Madison Dukes battle the Air Force Falcons. The Dukes followed up a fine 8-3 season with an 11-1 (!) mark this year with their only loss coming by three points to Appalachian St. Air Force looked home and cooled in the Mountain West at one point, and least for a spot in the conference title game, but they SHAT the BED down the stretch and lost their final four games.

The Details

James Madison -1.5 Air Force (40.5)


“Vegas” Implied Projected Score: James Madison 21 Air Force 19.5

Air Force offense vs James Madison defense

The Falcons have done fine work on the ground as per usual (#2 FBS, 276 YPG) but their overall production fell off BIGLY once they lost starting QB Zac Larrier to injury (#2 rusher, 6-2 TD to INT, 60%, 12.0 YPA). He’s supposed to be back for the bowl game which is great news for the Falcons although they’ll be without RB John Lee Eldridge who hit the transfer portal (6.9 YPC). James Madison boasts the #1 (!) run defense in the country (62 YPG) but the key handicapping element to this game is trying to figure out how many players have quit and will not be participating in the game. There are a TON of key players in the transfer portal but according to “reports”, all of them are supposed to be super-excited and ready to play. We find that hard to believe but you never know.

James Madison offense vs Air Force defense

The Dukes have done well on offense behind QB Jordan McCloud (3,400 yards, 32-9 TD to INT) and he’s still listed as the starter on the depth chart as we approach press time. #2 RB Ty’Son Lawton, 1,000-yard WR Elijah Sarratt, and starting LT Tyler Stephens have also entered the transfer portal but it’s anyone’s guess how many (or any) of these guys will play. The one important thing to note is that the Dukes do most of their damage thru the air and the THROW GAME is tougher to maintain with FRESH MEAT as opposed to a reliable ground attack. The Falcons play solid defense (#6 FBS total defense, #9 run defense, #56 pass efficiency defense) but that’s helped a great deal by an offense that stays on the field for a long time (#10 TOP).

Trends, Intangibles and More!

The Falcons have won four bowl games in a row and HC Troy Calhoun is 7-5 SU in bowl affairs…..James Madison’s excellent HC Curt Cignetti is off to Indiana with several assistant coaches and the Dukes had to enlist several temporary coaches to help out.


The Falcons are getting healthier and appear to be the more motivated squad heading into this BAD BOY.


Lean – Air Force +1.5

‘Official play’ implies this pick is one of our favorites of the week (perceived value, match-up, coaching, trends, etc.). We’re currently playing these picks for the same amount as the leans but it’s up to you how you want to manage your bankroll. Please see the Week in Review posts for more detail.

‘Lean’ implies we are placing a wager on the game.

‘No leanage’ implies we won’t have any action on the game.

Team totalsWe list the implied number based on the point spread and total when our analysis is posted. If a team total ends up being an official play we will post a widely available number at the time of pick release.