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Florida Atlantic Owls vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane Preview 2014

When push comes to shove can FAU beat another Group of 5 team? We take a look at Florida Atlantic's chances against Tulsa.

Eric Francis

Who: Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. Florida Atlantic Owls

When: Saturday, September 13, 7:00 PM EST

Where: Boca Raton, Florida

Television: FCS Atlantic

Series: First meeting

Well, this is it. The true fork in the road for Florida Atlantic's season presents itself in their Week Three opponent, Tulsa. The team, the coaches and the fan base are all ready to move on from an abysmal start to 2014 and enter the more closely matched portion of their schedule.

The Owls will need to lookout for sophomore quarterback Dane Evans and his number one target, wide receiver Keevan Lucas. Their connection has already led to 4 touchdowns on the year and there is no doubt they will attack the depleted FAU secondary head on. The Golden Hurricane also boast a one-two punch in running backs James Flanders and Tavarreon Dickerson. Even with all of these weapons, Tulsa met a similar fate as FAU as they were put to pasture last weekend against Oklahoma. The Golden Hurricane will look to move the ball quickly and exploit any favorable one-on-one matchups.

Florida Atlantic enters this match-up with a heavy chip on their shoulder. Last in total defense, two painful losses and only one touchdown can put a lot of pressure on a program. Coach Partridge will need to take this team back to basics and emphasize the tackling techniques the Owls displayed last season. I believe the offense is ready to rumble at this point in the season and a shaky Tulsa defense should set the stage for their coming-out party.

Saturday's game is not only the first home match-up for FAU, but it is also the official unveiling of Howard Schnellenberger Field. The legendary coach has done an unspeakable amount for Florida Atlantic University and this is the least the administration can do for the man that started it all. Owl fans can only hope that Schnelly Field will be christened properly with a victory against the Golden Hurricane.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Quarterback

Reports from FAU Owl Access, have Jaquez Johnson back at practice and taking first team reps. If Johnson can start for the Owls this week, FAU will be poised to attack on cylinders for the first time since the first quarter against Alabama.

Defensive Backs

The Florida Atlantic defensive backs have been lit up this season by two premium opponents. They face off against Keevan Lucas this weekend, who is currently sitting at number two in the nation in receptions. An interception or two against a turnover-prone quarterback could help this unit get back on track.

Trenches

Tulsa's linemen were pushed around last week by Oklahoma just as easily as FAU's were against Alabama. The Owls will rely on the run once again and if the offensive line can open up holes for the running backs, Florida Atlantic will see success.

Open Playbook

Typically, FAU starts their seasons off with a quick glimpse at things to come without fully revealing their hand. The trial period is over now and the Owl offense (and maybe even the defense) should be given free {rein} to open up the playbook. Two QB sets, wide receiver passes and maybe even a little fumblerooski. Expect the unexpected in this match-up.

Charlie's Red Pants

Charlie Partridge has bet the student body that if they fill up their section for Saturday's game, he will wear nantucket reds on the sideline. I am seriously debating pulling out the good ol' Owl card one last time just to secure a full section and an appearance by Partridge's red pants. Regardless of what color his pants are, coach Partridge has mended many alumni relationships that were torn apart during the Pelini era. The FAU fan base appears to be fired up once again about their Owls and a win against Tulsa will only solidify their premonitions.

Let us rise up and praise the scheduling gods for finally delivering FAU an opponent of similar stature! Tulsa, for as solid as they have been over the past couple of years, are not world beaters. That being said, neither are the Owls. I expect Tulsa to try and pound away at Florida Atlantic on the ground and utilize the same quick slants and screens that did the Owls in in Weeks One and Two. A healthy D'Joun Smith should help corral any tomfoolery the Golden Hurricane are attempting to pull on the outsides and Brandin Bryant will apply ample pressure on Dane Evans. Look for Jaquez Johnson to get the start at quarterback and hit the ground running. This won't be the game that brings William Dukes out of his slump, but it will be the game Lucky Whitehead takes a jet sweep to the house.

Prediction: FAU 27, Tulsa 17