The Florida Atlantic Owls (2-8, 2-5) will travel within the Sunshine State as they face the #11 Florida Gators, who are #8 in the CFP rankings (9-1, 7-1) in non-conference action Saturday afternoon. Florida won both previous meetings between the schools, including a 41-3 whipping as a 34 point home favorite on September 3, 2011 in the most recent matchup.
Florida Atlantic lost their second straight and fifth in the last six games as they were upended 24-17 at home by Middle Tennessee last week. Florida won their third straight with a 24-14 road win over South Carolina Saturday. Kickoff from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida is scheduled for 12:00 pm ET and will be televised on the SEC Network. Florida is currently a 31 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 46.5 points.
Florida Atlantic hung in pretty well against Middle Tennessee but after giving up a 62 yard touchdown pass with just under six minutes to go in the third quarter, the Owls had no answer. The Owls were outgained 479-297, lost the first down battle 22-14 and dropped the time of possession battle 33:00 to 27:00 in the contest. Florida Atlantic did force a pair of turnovers while only committing one of their own but couldn’t come up with enough offense to deliver a victory in the game.
The Owls put up 221 yards per game through the air (72nd in the nation) and 157.7 yards per contest (87th in the nation) on the ground this season. Florida Atlantic averages 22.3 points per game but they rank 85th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 29.4 points per contest. Jason Driskel has completed 67 of 131 passes for 854 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions while Jaquez Johnson has hit 102 of 186 passes for 1,356 yards with eight touchdowns and four picks while adding 227 yards plus a score on the ground. Greg Howell has stepped in as the team’s leading rusher with 118 carries for 532 yards plus three scores; Jay Warren (61 carries, 268 yards, 2 TD) is the normal starter when he’s healthy while Marcus Clark (22 carries, 114 yards) has done his fair share when given an opportunity. Trey Rodriguez has been solid lately with 70 carries for 419 yards and a team high five scores. Jenson Stoshak is the team’s leading receiver with 46 grabs for 680 yards and two touchdowns; Kalib Woods (23 receptions, 296 yards, 2 TD), Taylor Cameron (16 receptions, 233 yards) and Kamrin Solomon (18 catches, 332 yards, 2 TD) are in the mix as well. Greg Joseph is 23 of 23 on extra points and 14 of 21 on field goals on the year with a long of 47 yards.
Florida led 17-0 after three quarters and hung on after South Carolina cut the deficit to 17-14 with 4:49 to play. The Gators drove 75 yards on six plays to get the clinching score with 2:01 to go in the game. Florida more than doubled South Carolina in the total yardage category 404-201, finished with 20 first downs while allowing 13 and dominated the time of possession battle by a 39:56 to 20:04 margin in the victory. Both teams committed a pair of turnovers in the game; the Gators held South Carolina to a total of 58 yards outside their two touchdown drives.
The Gators enter this contest 55th in the nation in passing offense (232.3 yards per game) and they stand only 103rd in the nation in rushing with 138.6 yards per contest. Florida is averaging a solid 28.1 points per game this season, which puts them tied for 67th in the nation in scoring offense; the Gators bring the 4th best scoring defense in the nation to the table here as they allow 14.5 points per contest. Will Grier had been the starter at quarterback for a stretch and completed 106 of 161 passes for 1,204 yards with 10 touchdowns and three picks while running for 116 yards and two scores; he was suspended for a year for PEDs. That put Treon Harris (75 of 135, 1109 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT, 172 rushing yards) back in the mix at quarterback after being suspended for a game earlier this season for violation of team rules. Kelvin Taylor is the feature back for the Gators with 191 carries for 736 yards and 12 touchdowns; Jordan Scarlett is next in line with 30 carries for 167 yards plus a touchdown. Demarcus Robinson is the team’s leading receiver with 47 catches for 505 yards and two scores; Jake McGee (31 receptions, 268 yards, 3 TD), Brandon Powell (25 grabs, 344 yards, 3 TD) and Antonio Callaway (25 catches, 489 yards, 3 TD) are other reliable targets. Three Florida kickers have kicked 32 of 36 extra points and seven of 12 field goal attempts with a long of 43 yards.
Florida Atlantic is 10-1 ATS in their last 11 on the road against teams with a winning home record, 4-1 ATS in their last five after allowing at least 450 yards of offense, 4-1 ATS in their last five against the SEC and 15-6 ATS in their last 21 non-conference games. Florida is 4-9 ATS in their last 13 after allowing less than 20 points and 0-5 ATS in their last five at home against teams with a losing record.
The Owls have struggled this season but Florida’s offense isn’t a high powered one that puts up truckloads of points. Florida has a stingy defense but giving four plus touchdowns is a tough task to undertake; if you’re playing straight up, the Gators are the easy choice. Playing the line, you have to give Florida Atlantic a slim edge given the fact that they’re getting 31 points.