Armed Forces Bowl 2012 picks and predictions: Rice vs. Air Force

Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Can a surging Rice team slow down Air Force's prolific run game? The experts aren't so sure.

The Rice Owls are flying high going into their first bowl game in four years. Winners of five of their final six regular-season games, Rice just barely qualified for a bowl at 6-6. But the Owls will need an outstanding effort on defense to slow down an Air Force squad that, while slumping, has run over countless teams in 2012.

Air Force has won just one game in its last four contests, but features a fearful triple-option offense captained by Connor Dietz and featuring a rested Cody Getz. The senior running back was tearing apart opposing defenses in the first month of the season before an ankle injury slowed him down in the last seven. With a month off, however, Getz wil likely have a fresh burst in his step for the 6-6 Falcons, who boast the nation's second-best rushing offense.

Rice, however, is no slouch in the run game either. The Owls boasted the second-best running attack in Conference USA and the 29th-best rushing offense in the nation. Between Taylor McHargue, Charles Ross, and Turner Petersen, Rice has a bevy of options when it comes to running the ball.

But experts aren't confident that Rice can slow down what will be a rested and angry Falcons team. NBC Sports' College Football talk expects Air Force to win easily, 28-14, and Scout.com also called it for the Falcons, 34-27. They expect the tandem of Getz and Dietz to be too much for Rice to handle.

The Armed Forces Bowl will take place at 11:45 am ET in Forth Worth, Tex., on Dec. 29.

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