Updated: 12/18/17 – Harrison Bryant Doubtful
FAU tight end Harrison Bryant missed the last two games with an ankle injury and is not expected to suit up for this contest. Bryant recorded 408 receiving yards in 11 games this season, however his absence should not have a big impact on the Owls offense.
Akron Zips (7-6; 9-4 ATS; 3-10 O/U) vs. FAU Owls (10-3; 9-4 ATS; 6-7 O/U)
The FAU Owls will square off with the Akron Zips in the Boca Raton Bowl Tuesday, December 19th from FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, FL. The Zips posted a 7-6 record and went 6-3 in MAC play, while FAU went 10-3 with a perfect 9-0 record in C-USA play this season. There is no previous meeting between these two schools. Akron last played in a bowl game in the 2015 season and defeated Utah State in the Idaho Potato Bowl, and FAU is playing in their first bowl game since the 2008 season in a game they won by a 24-21 score over Central Michigan.
Zips Look to Rebound After Rout in MAC Title Game
The Akron Zips will have a chance to put their disappointing 45-28 loss to Toledo in the MAC Championship game behind them. The Zips took advantage of a subpar MAC East conference this season in their first-place finish. They rely on their passing game to generate offense with a duo at quarterback. The Zips could give playing time to both Thomas Woodson and Kato Nelson in this matchup, however Nelson should see a majority of the action. Woodson is a senior with experience and finished the year with 1,777 passing yards with a 14:9 TD to INT ratio and Nelson is a freshman that played well down the final stretch and posted an 8:2 TD to INT ratio on the season. The Zips top target in the air goes to Kwadarrius Smith who caught for over 100 yards in two out of his last three games and finished the regular season with a team-leading 726 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Akron does not possess a strong running game, and they feature three backs who have all tallied over 300 rushing yards with Manny Morgan leading the way with 393 yards.
Akron’s defense will need to be at their absolute best to have a good shot in this one. They are struggling to stop both the pass and run, and had a tough time against strong offensive opponents this season as Toledo scored a combined 93 points in two games against them. The Zips longest winning streak this season was three games, and they did win two out of their final three games.
Owls Enter Boca Raton Bowl as C-USA Champions
The FAU Owls enter the Boca Raton Bowl with a ton of momentum after crushing North Texas by a 41-17 score in the C-USA Championship game on December 2nd. The Owls potent offense was unstoppable in the win, accumulating 633 total yards. FAU QB Jason Driskel did not put up huge numbers this season as they are a run-heavy team. The junior quarterback tallied 1977 passing yards with a 13:4 TD to INT ratio on the season. The Owls feature a spectacular running game highlighted by the dynamic Devin Singletary. The sophomore running back was unstoppable this season, rushing for at least 100 yards in 11 consecutive games, and has collected 1796 rushing yards with a whopping 29 touchdowns. He rushed for 164 yards in the Owls win over North Texas in the C-USA Title Game. FAU’s leading receiver Willie Wright finished the regular season with 586 receiving yards and caught a combined 21 passes in his last four games.
The FAU defense had a strong season and came through with a valiant effort against a strong North Texas offense in the Conference Championship. They will give up yards in the air as they own the 92nd ranked pass defense, however, they are only allowing an average of 24 points per game. The Owls enter this game on a nine-game winning streak.
The Akron Zips are:
- 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games after recording more than 280 passing yards in their previous game.
The FAU Owls are:
- 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against a team with a winning record.
- 5-0 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games.
I am siding with Florida Atlantic in this contest. FAU has the decisive edge in all areas and they should take this one by big points on their home field. FAU owns the sixth-ranked running game with an average of 283 rushing yards per game, and Akron has a terrible rush defense that is ranked down at 96th in the Nation. Look for Owls running back Devin Singletary who has tallied 1796 rushing yards on the season to have a huge game on the ground. Furthermore, Akron possesses a subpar offense that only averaged 23.6 points this season, and the FAU defense is more than capable of shutting them down. FAU only allowed a combined 29 points in their last two games, and they should take this one by big points.
Pick: FAU Owls
FAU is a strong defensive team and will be facing a weak Akron offense. I do not anticipate the Akron offense having any success against an Akron team with the 103rd ranked offense. FAU just held an outstanding North Texas offense to 17 points in the C-USA Title Game, and the under is 6-0 in their last six games in December. While I do expect a big game from the FAU offense, this is a high total and I expect the Owls defense to play a key role in the under converting, plus the under is 13-3 in the Zips last 16 games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game.