The Golden Bears began the 2007 season as a favorite to contend for the Pac-10 Conference championship, but after an injury to quarterback Nate Longshore, the team earned a win–loss record of 6-6 for the regular season. The Falcons earned their first bowl bid since 2001 with a 9-3 mark, tied for second in the Mountain West Conference.
The Golden Bears came out for the game without last names on the backs of their uniforms, a change from their look throughout the season. Prior to the game, Golden Bears players kick returnerDesean Jackson, wide receiverRobert Jordan, and free safetyThomas DeCoud were suspended for the first quarter of the game for violating team rules.
The Golden Bears struggled early against the Falcons. The Bears had trouble in the early going of the game adjusting to the Falcons triple option offense and unpredictable line formations. Golden Bears quarterbackNate Longshore started in the first quarter, but was hampered by the absence of DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan. Longshore completed 5 of 8 passes for 36 yards in the first quarter.
As Cal coach Jeff Tedford had planned, backup quarterback Kevin Riley took over for Longshore in the second quarter. Riley completed two touchdown passes to DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins to make it 21-14 Falcons at the half.
Carney was injured in the third quarter on a running play and did not return. Backup Shea Smith, who had not played all year, replaced Carney. The Falcons were limited to a pair of field goals, while Robert Jordan caught a pass for a touchdown and Justin Forsett ran in for one.
He rushed for another in the fourth quarter, as did Riley. Air Force was limited to field goals until they capitalized on a botched kickoff return to score a touchdown with just over two minutes left, but failed to recover an onside kick.
Carney finished with one touchdown pass and 108 yards rushing. Alongside Carney, Falcons running back Jim Ollis also eclipsed the 100 yard rushing mark with 101, while Forsett had 140. Riley completed 269 passing yards and was the game MVP.
Cal ended the 2007 season with its first win in four games, while handing Air Force their first loss in four games.