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FAU vs Western Kentucky Preview

Can FAU pull off the biggest upset in Conference USA this season?

NCAA Football: Florida Atlantic at Tulsa Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Start time: Saturday, October 29th, 3:30 p.m. EST

Location: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida

Betting Line: FAU +21.5, Over/Under 65.5

All-time Series: FAU leads 5-2

Western Kentucky Outlook

The Hilltoppers are currently on a two-game winning streak as they have defeated back-to-back C-USA East division opponents. Their most recent win came in dominating fashion as WKU defeated Old Dominion 59-24 in a game in which the Tops led 52-14 at the half.

Former USF quarterback Mike White has seamlessly replaced Brandon Doughty as the offense hasn’t missed a beat. The offense ranks 26th in S&P+ and is averaging 40.3 points per game while being efficient (10th ranked) and explosive (41st ranked).

White has passed for 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions with 2476 passing yards. He’s only been sacked 10 time this year and a big reason for that is because of OT Forrest Lamp.

WKU’s receiving core is one of the best in the conference as seniors Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris lead the group in receiving yards (993) and touchdowns (9) respectively. WKU’s Passing Success Rate and Passing S&P+ rank in the top 20. Their Passing IsoPPP ranks 36th.

In case you’ve missed the message, they pass the ball really well. With starting running back Ace Wales suspended for the first half due to his involvement in a scuffle last week expect to see WKU pass the ball early and often.

In replace of Wales will be true freshman Quinton Baker. He’s rushed for 310 yards and 2 touchdowns this seasons. He’s not nearly as dynamic as Wales and is more of a bruiser compared to the elusiveness and speed Wales displays when he has the ball.

Defensively WKU has been really bad this year but they are coming off of their best performance in conference play. Against Old Dominion they held the Monarchs to a season low 67 rushing yards.

Their major weaknesses have been defending the pass as they rank 122nd in Passing S&P+ and Passing Success Rate. Brent Stockstill and Ryan Higgins torched WKU’s secondary. If Kalib Woods can get behind the secondary Jason Driskel could have the best day of his career on Saturday.

FAU is on a six-game losing streak. Things haven’t looked this bleak since Partridge’s first season. That season Partridge notched his biggest win to date as FAU knocked off WKU 45-38.

Trey Hendrickson had a breakout game as he registered multiple sacks and forced the game-winning turnover with a strip sack of Brandon Doughty. For FAU fans it was the highlight of a forgettable 2014 season. For WKU it was a blip in what was an otherwise successful debut season for Jeff Brohm that saw them win 8 games with a bowl win.

Fast forward to now and WKU is trying to win back-to-back Conference USA Championships in just their third season in the conference. Meanwhile FAU is hoping to salvage what has been another forgettable season in Boca.

FAU has always played WKU tough since they have been conference members and this week we could see the Owls give them a game. Last week Old Dominion had two weeks to prepare for WKU’s explosive offense and trailed 21-0 after the first quarter.

Hopefully the Owls won’t follow that same path. With two weeks of preparation and the suspension of Ace Wales, FAU should know exactly what to expect from the Tops. Although the offense has shown glimpses, the game is going to come down to whether Trey Hendrickson and the defensive line can get pressure on Mike White.

The Owls secondary has underachieved this year. They haven’t given up big plays as FAU ranks 27th in Passing IsoPPP but they are 127th (almost dead last!) in Passing Success Rate.

If FAU’s pass defense doesn’t show up for this game, we could see a halftime score similar to the one in Bowling Green against Old Dominion and it won’t be in favor of the home team this weekend.


Since the pre-season I believed Western Kentucky was going to be the best team in C-USA but I didn’t think they were capable of running the table again. Unfortunately for FAU they’ve already got their lost out the way and now the Tops must win out in order win C-USA East.

After their thrilling win over rival MTSU in double overtime the Tops destroyed Old Dominion. The Monarchs didn’t have an offense capable of winning a shootout and neither does FAU.

With Wales being suspended I see WKU’s offense sputtering in the first half. FAU must take advantage and make the most of their extra possessions they probably won’t see in the second half.

Ultimately FAU’s magic number to win this game is to hold WKU under 35 and there’s been no evidence FAU’s pass defense will be able to hold up over the course of four quarters.

WKU 45 FAU 28