College football bowl season began this week with 40 postseason contests taking place over the next three weeks.
During this stretch of must-watch football, a Lansing alum will compete in the Cheez-It Bowl with the Air Force Academy Friday at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.
Scott Hattok, a senior offensive lineman for the Falcons, is playing in his first career bowl game after becoming a standout for a unit that relies heavily on its running game. Hattok graduated from Lansing in 2015 where he was a two-time All-State honoree for the Lions. He played in 10 games during his sophomore season before taking over as a starter in his junior year. From there, he started all 12 games for the Falcons in his junior and senior years and helped maintain a rushing attack that consistently ranks top-five in the country.
“We went 5-7 my first two years playing so we got to go home early for Christmas,” Hattok said. “This year, the seniors wanted to get six wins and get to a bowl game and we exceeded that goal but making a bowl game is something you strive for.”
Air Force left no question as to whether they were deserving of a bowl game as some six-win teams do since the Falcons ripped off an impressive 10-2 record in 2019, including a 30-23 overtime defeat of Colorado of the Pac-12 conference.
Now, Hattok and the Falcons get the second Power Five team of the season in Washington State University, another Pac-12 team.
“We had a good opportunity against a Power Five team in Colorado early in the season,” he said. “It was a close game, came down to the wire but we did what we were supposed to do and got the win. It definitely gives us confidence that we can play our game against teams like that.”
That game he is talking about is running the ball and is what the Falcons are doing nearly 85% of the time they snap the ball on offense. Air Force attempted 686 rushes on 800 total plays in 12 games this season and gained a total of 3,510 yards. The Falcons averaged 292 yards per game and just over five per carry. Their attack is spread among nearly a dozen runners with none eclipsing 1,000 yards but seven gaining more than 100.
Hattok said he loves the scheme he gets to play in because he’s able to get out in the open field and block more on the triple-option plays.
The Cougars will feature a vastly different scheme consisting mostly of air raid concepts leading most to believe these styles clashing will produce a lot of points.
Beyond competing at the Cheez-It Bowl, Hattok will have an opportunity to showcase his ability to professional teams Jan. 18 at the NFL Player’s Association Collegiate Bowl, held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. With his body of work as a Falcon, he plans to look toward a career in professional football in addition to having graduated from the Academy as a civil engineer. He said the timing of President Trump’s announcement that athletes at the military academies may pursue opportunities as professionals before serving in the military could not have been better in regards to what he can begin working toward in the NFL.
“If the chance is there for me to see what I can do at the next level, I’ll take it,” he said. “But other than that I’ll continue with the career I have with the Air Force.”
The Cheez-It Bowl is scheduled to kick off at 9:15 p.m. Friday and will be aired on ESPN.