Let’s face it, Lane Kiffin is a terrific villain. From Tennessee-transfer chicanery to Alabama-lam-a to NFL hell, controversy has followed the rogue head coach like no other.
That trend continues at Florida Atlantic. As as a 1st-year HC on “probation” with the Power-5, Kiffin has brought in a bunch of mercenaries on transfers (of course), has offended a proud program (Navy) by needlessly-extending a blow-out of his own team in Week 1, and may already be playing footsie with a few major-conference ADs who like the fact that the Owls are 10-3.
Oh, and he’s got FAU hosting its own bowl game. How did that happen?
It was an accident, due to the Boca Raton Bowl’s relationship with Conference-USA in which the Owls loomed large in 2017. But there’s talk of the program singing a long-term deal with the event, which presents an unfair disadvantage for MAC opponents who must face them.
Vegas doesn’t imagine Akron has much of a chance straight-up in ’17, even though the Zips were impressive in games against Troy, Western Michigan and Ohio.
Who: Akron Zips vs Florida Atlantic Owls
When: Tuesday, December 19th, 7 PM EST
Where: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, FL
Lines: Akron (+23) vs FAU (-23) / O/U Total (61)
23 points is a lot. Obviously, bookies are thinking that FAU is a Power-5 type team hidden in a mid-major conference, and will easily overwhelm Akron’s meager pass-blocking in front of a noisy throng.
But Kiffin’s team has been winning with athletes and high-tempo offense over 4 quarters, not with a marauding defense. The Owls are giving up 160+ rushing yards and 400+ combined yards per game. Tailback Devin Singletary is the team’s real star, and could potentially finish with 2000 yards and over 30 touchdowns if he goes crazy against the Zips. However, he won’t get enough touches to do that if Akron can control the ball.
Boca Raton’s MAC representative didn’t play all that badly in last week’s 45-28 loss to Toledo. The conference-title clash was decided early by Logan Woodside’s arm, but the Zips intercepted twice and finished with more than 5 yards per offensive play. QB Kato Nelson did not play the entire game, but tossed a couple of TD passes.
Pundits believe the favorites have “gelled” and are therefore throwing-out the first few weeks of the season. But Florida Atlantic played one MAC team (Buffalo) in Week 4 and lost. Their most impressive win after that was maybe 30-25 over Marshall, or maybe 41-17 over North Texas. The schedule hasn’t been a bruiser.
QB Jason Driskel isn’t having the biggest year imaginable, though the offensive line has protected him. Singletary has been such a close-and-far-range TD machine that average passing stats haven’t mattered.
We’re liking Akron against the spread, with the advantage of (+23) points and a good-enough offense to keep it close for a while.
Look for Driskel to be intercepted or Singletary to fumble, trying to do too much to impress NFL scouts. FAU likely wins comfortably but their seniors will play in the 2nd half.