clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Is FAU the Safest Bet Around?

The Florida Atlantic Owls have had a penchant for keeping games respectable, but how does this "skill" translate against the spread?

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Huge betting lines - every Group of Five team has seen them, and they may even squeak over to the favorite side from time-to-time. Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case for FAU recently. Over the last two years, following a head coaching transition from Howard Schnellenberger to Carl Pelini, the Owls were favored to win only five games by an average spread of -14.2. FAU only covered the spread in two of those games, but after pulling these numbers, there seems to a bigger trend here that the rest of the country isn't talking about.

Coming off an abysmal 2011 campaign, FAU turned to Pelini to usher in a new era of Owl football. While this wasn't the smoothest or smartest transition, looking back on his tenure, the Owls rarely ever let games get away from them. There were a few boneheaded performances and ill-timed missteps that led to 3-9 and 6-6 seasons, but the point spreads tell a different story.

Not including Florida Atlantic's nail-biting "performance" against Wagner University, the Owls actually beat the spread eight times, including twice against SEC opponents. With points spreads of +48.5 and +41.5, against Alabama and Georgia respectively, the Owls kept it close enough to cover. Now, these were terrible performances by a team that was still learning to flap its wings (owl pun intended), but the trend continued into Pelini's second season as head coach.

For the first eight games of 2013, the Owls were underdogs. They didn't win a game until week three against in-state rival, USF, but, out of those eight games, they covered the spread six times. By the end of the season, FAU had beat the spread nine times total and became bowl-eligible simultaneously.

Year Avg. Spread Record Against The Spread
2013 +3.9 6-6 9-3
2012 -16.2 3-9 8-3

While the theory that FAU is one of the safest bets in college football does have ground to stand on, there may be something more interesting hidden in these numbers. While maintaining one of the more one-sided rivalries in the FBS, Florida Atlantic hasn't beaten the spread against FIU since 2010. Even with this anomaly, FAU looks to maintain their reputation of keeping games close for another year and hopefully turning some of those close calls into wins in the standings.