Air Force's Zane Lewis, front right, reacts after deflecting a pass during an NCAA college football game against Colgate at Air Force Academy, Colo., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (Chancey Bush/The Gazette via AP)
Air Force's Zane Lewis, front right, reacts after deflecting a pass during an NCAA college football game against Colgate at Air Force Academy, Colo., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (Chancey Bush/The Gazette via AP)
View All (4)

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Envision this for a moment: Colorado senior quarterback Steven Montez leading the Air Force triple-option offense.

The opportunity was on the table out of high school for the dual-threat QB. Colorado recruited Montez for his throwing/running and Air Force for his running/throwing.

In the end, Montez followed his arm to Colorado and now he'll guide the Buffaloes (2-0) against the Falcons (1-0) on Saturday at Folsom Field. It's the first meeting between the two schools since 1974.

"I probably would be a lot lighter, that's for sure," cracked the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Montez when discussing running the option offense. "I wouldn't be as heavy as I am now."

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun fully believes Montez's skill set would've translated at the Academy — like it has at Colorado.

"He was mobile. He was big. He was strong," Calhoun said. "He was an outstanding high school football player and he is a tremendous college football player, too."

Montez currently sits fourth all-time at Colorado in yards passing, pass attempts, and in completions. He's also third in touchdown passes and second in total offense. He's 60th in yards rushing.

Under a different scenario, maybe the player from El Paso, Texas, would've made a run through the Air Force record books — in the rushing ranks. His senior year of high school he threw for nearly 3,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,000.

It's understandable why the Falcons were so high on him.

"Air Force — got the offer and was excited about it. I didn't really want to go the military route," Montez said. "I'm blessed Colorado found me."

The Falcons enter the game well rested and well prepared. After beating Colgate 48-7 on Aug. 31, they used the bye week to dissect Colorado.

Colorado is off to a 2-0 start for the fourth straight season. The Buffs have a load of confidence after a 34-31 overtime win over Nebraska in which they rallied from a 17-0 deficit.

Although, this could be shaping up to be a trap game for the Buffaloes, who enter as 4 1/2-point favorites. Just don't mention that to first-year Colorado coach Mel Tucker.

"You have to be totally clueless to get caught off guard by a team like Air Force," Tucker said. "Everybody in America and the world who knows anything about football knows that when you play Air Force, you better strap it up. They know what the heck they're doing. They've got talented guys that are tough, that are physical, that are disciplined. ... So, if we don't realize that, then shame on us."

Things to know as Colorado goes for its sixth straight win over Air Force. The Falcons haven't beaten the Buffs since Nov. 23, 1968:


The Buffaloes had the scout team try to mirror the moves of Air Force quarterback Donald Hammond III, tailback Kadin Remsberg and the fullbacks who run the dive up the middle. Tucker compared stopping the option to a Broadway musical — everyone must play their role.

"A guy may have one role, might not have any lines, but just come walk across the stage with a broom, sweep the floor and walk off the other side," Tucker said. "But if he doesn't do that, then you don't have a show. And so everyone's got to pitch in and do their job and play a role for the team."


There was a sea of red in the Folsom Field stands last weekend to support the Cornhuskers. Calhoun wouldn't mind seeing that volume of blue in the bleachers. But he's realistic.

"We're a tiny school," Calhoun said. "There are 4,000 students with very few graduates that live in the area."


Calhoun compared Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. to longtime NFL standout Andre Johnson. Calhoun worked with Johnson when he was the offensive coordinator/QB coach with the Houston Texans in 2006.

"Incredibly fast, highly powerful and explosive," Calhoun said. "The resemblances are striking."


The last time Colorado played a service academy was Oct. 1, 1977, when the Buffs beat Army 31-0 at West Point, New York.


The last time Air Force faced a Pac-12 school was 2015 against California in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Bears won 55-36. The Falcons are 26-33-2 all-time versus Pac-12 schools.


More AP college football: and