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2017 Boca Raton Bowl Preview: FAU vs Akron

FAU has a chance to finish their best season in school history with a resounding win at home.

NCAA Football: North Texas at Florida Atlantic Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Location: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida

Date: Tuesday, December 19th

Time: 7:00 PM ET

TV/Stream: ESPN

Records: FAU (10-3), Akron (7-6)

Spread: FAU - 22.5

Over/Under: 64

All-Time Series: First ever meeting


Boca Bowl Outlook

Well FAU fans, the best season in school history will be played in the friendly confines of FAU Stadium. It’s not the bowl game we wanted, but we could be treated to the finish that we deserve.

The Owls are a 22.5 point favorite. It’s the largest point spread in bowl game history. S&P+ gives FAU a 90 percent chance at winning the game. As long as FAU shows up, the Owls should win by at least 14 points.

It’s weird treating a bowl game preview as if it’s an early season matchup between FAU and a FCS school but here we are.

Akron and FAU have one common opponent in Buffalo. The Zips defeated Buffalo 21-20 at home behind the play of their quarterback Thomas Woodson. The Zips scored a touchdown in the game’s final minutes as Woodson finished the game with 291 passing yards and three touchdowns.

On the season Woodson’s numbers are solid as he’s passed for 1,777 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interception in 10 games. Woodson was suspended for the last three game of the regular season and played sparingly against Toledo in the MAC Championship Game.

His replacement was backup quarterback (and South Florida native) Kato Nelson. The freshman led the Zips to a 2-2 record in the games he started, with 909 yards and eight touchdowns versus two interceptions. He looked overwhelmed against Toledo and Kent State, but against Ohio he was impressive, with four touchdowns and zero turnovers for 322 yards. I’d expect Nelson to get the start.

Defensively the Zips are ranked 76th in S&P+. They don’t do anything particularly amazing as far as stopping the run or defending the pass, but they are excellent at forcing turnovers. Akron is +10 in turnover margin this year with 19 interceptions.

Their best defender is linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III, who leads the team with 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. Gilbert III also has three interceptions. Jordan George leads the Zips with five interceptions this season.

Prediction

I’d be shocked if FAU won this game by less than 10 points. They were untouchable during conference play and will play an opponent that resembles Old Dominion. The Owls beat ODU 58-28 this season. Being that Akron’s run defense isn’t the best, expect to see Devin Singletary shine on the national stage as I think Motor rushes for over 200 yards.

Akron ranks 94th in Adjusted Pace, meaning they prefer to slow games down. The only chance Akron wins is they play keep-away and maximize their possessions with touchdowns. Being that Lane Kiffin will have all eyes on him Tuesday night, expect things to get weird as far as trick plays.

FAU 55 Akron 23