Last time we saw FAU (1-3, 1-0), they were busy playing in the ugliest game known to mankind as they eeked out a 17-7 victory over Charlotte in the conference opener. Next up for the Owls? The Owls! Rice (2-3, 1-1) enter this week's matchup after suffering their first conference loss of the season to Western Kentucky 49-10. Why there isn't a trophy awarded to the winner of this game that resembles a ferocious owl on the verge of snatching up a smaller owl with its talons is beyond me.
Start Time: Oct. 10, 2:30 P.M. ET.
Where: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida.
TV: Fox College Sports
Series: Rice leads 1-0
Live Stats: Here.
Betting Line: FAU -4, Over/Under Point Total: 58.5
Forecasting Rice: The Rice Owls have been an early disappointment this season as many pegged Rice to challenge Louisiana Tech for the C-USA West crown.
The expectations largely rested on the shoulders of senior quarterback Driphus Jackson's stellar junior season and so far he has yet to live up to the hype as he has tossed six touchdown and four interceptions while completing 61 percent of his passes.
The latest example of Jackson's poor season was him getting benched during a 49-10 home loss to Western Kentucky last weekend. Everyone knows about WKU's defensive struggles so to see Rice only muster 10 points is a huge red flag.
The offense has scored a total of 20 points in their last two games which has caused some to wonder why Jackson has regressed so much during his senior season. Despite their struggles on offense, Rice still leads the conference in rushing yards per game with a 199.4 average and a conference best 13 rushing touchdowns.
A lot of the expectations surrounding Rice revolved around their offense. Not the defense. Rice is allowing 40.2 points per game and like all bad defensive teams can't stop the pass or the run.
Due to the offense not being able to pickup the slack, the defense has been hung out to dry many times this season. It was expected that Rice's offense would cover up the porous defense but that has not been the case as they are averaging 19 points per game.
Forecasting FAU: The Owls have had two weeks to prepare for Rice after taking last weekend off. The offense has been in a state of flux with Jaquez Johnson missing time with an ankle injury and didn't look good last time out against Charlotte as they turned over the ball five times in his return.
The Owls are fourth in the conference with 167.4 yards per game on the ground behind Greg Howell's 88.5 rushing yards per contest.
Although the offense been a disappointment this season, the defense has been downright awesome.
The secondary has led the charge with a mixture of youth and experience behind the play of seniors Cre'von LeBlanc, Sharrod Neasman, and freshmen Jalen Young, and Ocie Ross.
The Owls have not allowed a passing touchdown since week two against Miami as they have been holding teams to a 34.9% passing success rate.
The rushing defense has held its own the last two games allowing 148 yards on the ground per outing. But the Owls still struggle to get in the backfield as their stuff rate ranks 114th in the nation. Against a team that has primarily had success running the ball this season, that could be an issue.
Prediction: A lot is riding on this game. A loss for Rice would really jeopardize a chance for a fourth straight bowl bid. A win for FAU would set up a huge game against Marshall at FAU Stadium next week.
The advanced stats loves FAU in this matchup but I'm skeptical. These two teams both struggle to pass the ball, both rely too much on their senior quarterbacks, both turnover the ball frequently and both can't seem to finish drives with touchdowns. The two teams are identical and I see this game being decided in the fourth quarter.
When games come down to the end I tend to lean towards who has the coaching advantage and that goes to David Baliff and the Rice Owls. Baliff is 17-5 after week five since 2012. Rice was in a similar position last year sitting at 2-3 before reeling off four straight wins.
I really want to take FAU but I see Rice winning outright in a very quick game as both teams will rely on their rushing attack to move the ball.
FAU 20 Rice 26
Season Record: 1-3 Straight Up, 2-2 ATS, 3-1 Over/Under.