The dog days of summer are gone and football is back, ladies and gentleman! We can actually start talkin about a game. Not practice! But an actual game. Let's get it started!
Start Time: Saturday, Sept. 5, 3:30 P.M. ET.
Where: H.A. Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
TV: CBS Sports Network
Series: FAU leads 1-0
Live Stats: Here
Betting Line: Tulsa -7.5, Over/Under Point Total: 63
Forecasting Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane are a bit of an unknown with new head coach Philip Montgomery. Yes, they will continue to be a spread offense under Montgomery as he as brings Baylor's offensive philosophy with him but how quickly will his new players adapt? Apparently the guys in Vegas think fast enough as they open up as a 7.5 point favorite over a team they lost 51-20 to.
Last season Tulsa averaged 24.7 points per game. A far cry from when Todd Graham and Guz Malzahn were running the show. This season their offense will continue to be led by Dane Evans as he returns for his junior campaign. If Montgomery's time at Baylor is to be any indicator of success, Evans should be fine in the QB-friendly offense and continue the lineage of Tulsa quarterbacks producing great numbers.
The offensive line could potentially be Tulsa's biggest strength as they return 74 career starts. With an offense predicated on timing, having the bulk of the offensive line return is an added bonus, especially for Evans as he is not as smart with the football when under pressure (17 interceptions). Add in the return of four of their top pass-catchers, two of their most productive running backs, and the offense has a lot of potential to return back to the golden days of lighting up scoreboards.
Those who can recall when Tulsa was an annual contender for the Conference USA Championship probably remembers them as a team who put up a ton of points and forced a lot of turnovers. Well, that wasn't exactly the case last season. Tulsa allowed 39.3 points per game while forcing 16 turnovers (-9 TO differential).
Enter new defensive coordinator Bill Young. Young was last seen leading a resurgent Oklahoma State defense before getting the boot. Young will have some talent to work with as Tulsa returns two second-team AAC defensive linemen in Derrick Luetjen and Derrick Alexander, who led the team with 7.5 sacks last season. Tulsa returns 16 starters overall from last year's 2-10 team so a resurgence would not be surprising.
Forecasting FAU: Skeptical? Optimistic? Cautiously optimistic? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Charlie Partridge was hired as FAU's head coach due to his recruiting prowess. To his credit he has lived up to that billing and then some as FAU has definitely seen an influx in talent since his arrival. So how soon will Partridge and the coaching staff start translating that talent into wins?
Last year FAU went 3-9 and lost four games with under 30 seconds left in the game. That's a lot of heartbreak for a fan base to endure. Hence why many are taking a wait-and-see approach to this season. But if you look at the talent on the roster and the return of the dynamic combo of Jaquez Johnson and Jenson Stoshak, it doesn't take much to sit back and think maybe those close loses will turn in to wins this year.
FAU played only one complete game last season and it just so happened to be against Tulsa. The offense scored a season-high 50 points as Johnson threw for 318 yards, and four touchdowns in the route. The defense forced three turnovers in the game as Tulsa failed to build any consistency on offense.
This year the Owls lose three starters in the secondary and their defensive captain Andrae Kirk. FAU brought in eight defensive backs in this year's recruiting class so a lot of young players could potentially see the field. Against a spread offense like Tulsa to begin the season that could be dangerous.
Fortunately, the best way to protect a young secondary is to have an experienced defensive line and the Owls have that. Seniors Trevon Coley and Brandin Bryant will lead the way for what should be FAU's best defensive unit. With Tulsa's inability last season to run the ball effectively, and FAU's inability to stop the run, whoever wins that matchup could decide who wins the game.
Prediction: FAU has given me no reason to believe they will snap their five-game losing streak, and win a game on the road no less, but I say they turn the corner and overcome their road demons. They barley get out alive and escape with a win. Also, take the over, as both defenses will have a hard time getting off the field.
FAU 40 TULSA 33
What say you? Let us know who you think will win the game.