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The Air Force Falcons are a college football team from the United States Air Force Academy, located just outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The team competes in the Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA Division I and the Mountain West Conference.
Given the physical restrictions that military service puts on cadets, Air Force football has traditionally been based more on speed, willpower and technical execution than on pure size and strength. The Falcons have traditionally run a triple option offense, and have routinely competed favorably against bigger and stronger national opponents. While the wishbone is almost always assumed synonymous with the triple option, Air Force only deployed the formation occasionally under Coaches Fisher DeBerry and Ken Hatfield. One mainstay from both of these coaches is the option, and the consistent repetition to near perfection, as witnessed by the wins and the rushing statistics in the past 25 years, regularly placing Air Force in the top ten rushing teams in the nation.
Falcon home games are played in Falcon Stadium, which sits below the main campus at an elevation of 6621 feet (2018 m) above sea level. Pre-game activities include flyovers by USAF aircraft, including the F-15 and B-2. The highest attendance at a home game was 56,409 spectators in 2002, when the Falcons battled the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The Falcons are not only recognized by the lightning bolt on the side of their helmets, but their traditional option attack. Air Force is one of the premier rushing teams in the nation. Since Fisher DeBerry took over as Falcons head coach in 1984, they have ranked among the nation’s top 10 in rushing 19 times in 21 years. The Air Force football team has enjoyed success not only on the field but also in the classroom. In 49 years of Air Force football, there have been 39 Academic All-Americans.
1985 was the most successful season in Air Force football history. Under 2nd year coach Fisher DeBerry, the Fightin’ Falcons came within one win of playing for the national championship. They recorded 10 straight wins, climbed the polls to #2 in the nation, but lost to BYU by 7 points in the penultimate game of the season. Air Force rebounded with a bowl game win over Texas in the Bluebonnet Bowl and finished with a 12-1 record as the #5 ranked team in the nation.