Today Conference USA released the 2018 schedule for it’s conference members. We already knew what the 2018 non-conference schedule would look like, but now we have the full slate as conference games have been announced.
Here’s how the schedule breaks down for the FAU Owls and some quick thoughts on each game.
Week 1 at Oklahoma
The season opener is a huge showcase opportunity for the FAU Owls. Expect a few national media members to be all over FAU and the upset (or at least to cover the spread). Why? Well the Sooners will be without Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. I urge FAU fans to be realistic about the Owls’ chances in Norman. Vegas will have the Owls as a heavy underdog. In a hostile environment with a new starter at quarterback, playing the Sooners tough for a half is all we should ask for.
Week 2 vs Air Force
For the second straight season FAU will face the task of stopping the triple option. The Falcons failed to reach a bowl last season but are a prime candidate to have a bounce back season as head coach Troy Calhoun has had two straight losing seasons only once during his 10 years in Colorado Springs.
Week 3 vs Bethune Cookman
Last season FAU dominated the Wildcats. I expect this to be over at the half.
Week 4 at UCF
Already being recognized as one of the best non-conference games in 2018, the trip to Orlando will give FAU a huge opportunity to not only beat an in-state foe, but gain an inside track for a New Year’s Six bid. If FAU is to have any aspirations of a New Year’s Six bid they must win this game. With the amount of firepower back for both teams, I’m really hoping this game gets picked up nationally.
Week 5 at Middle Tennessee
The quest to repeat as Conference USA Champs starts with a huge road trip to Middle Tennessee. Last season FAU snapped a mind boggling nine-game losing streak to Middle Tennessee. With the news of Marshall’s Chase Litton entering the draft, I think the Blue Raiders are FAU’s biggest threat in C-USA East. Rick Stockstill and Ty Lee return to bolster the passing offense while we should see their defense continue to make strides in Scott Schafer‘s second season. FAU hasn’t won in Murfreesboro since 2004.
Week 6 vs Old Dominion
The C-USA home opener will be against an Old Dominion team that struggled to overcome injuries in 2017. FAU and ODU have played in some pretty close games since the two programs became conference mates in 2014 so the Owls shouldn’t overlook the Monarchs.
Week 7 BYE
For the second straight season FAU will have a bye week at the halfway mark. Ideally coaches prefer bye weeks in the middle of the season so chalk the placement of this bye week as a win. Especially since Lane Kiffin and co. will have two weeks to prepare for...
Week 8 at Marshall
After accomplishing a ton of firsts in Lane Kiffin’s debut season, FAU can add another one to the list in Kiffin’s second season should FAU beat Marshall at The Joan (FAU has never won in Huntington). Getting two weeks to prepare for another big road game is a huge scheduling break for the Owls. The Thundering Herd will bring back a lot of solid pieces but with the surprise departure of Chase Litton, they will have a new starter at quarterback. At this point in the season though Marshall’s new starting quarterback (Florida native Xavier Gaines?) will be seasoned.
Week 9 vs Louisiana Tech
After visiting Ruston last year, the Bulldogs will return the favor and visit FAU Stadium in 2018. La Tech underachieved last season but will bring back a boatload of starters to challenge North Texas for the C-USA West division title.
Week 10 at FIU
Biggest game on the schedule every year. Last year’s Shula Bowl was the biggest Shula Bowl ever and as long as Butch Davis is in Miami there will always be a lot more than bragging rights on the line. FIU is expected to be one of the most inexperienced teams in the nation next season. The Owls of course are going to be one of the most experienced teams in the nation in 2018. Considering the horror show FIU Stadium has been for FAU over the past few years, nothing should be taken for granted.
Week 11 vs WKU
The Tops will have a bunch of new faces across the board in Mike Sanford Jr.’s second season in Bowling Green. While WKU was a team to be reckoned with under Brohm, I’m not too concerned about WKU this year.
Week 12 at North Texas
A rematch of the Conference USA Championship Game, FAU heads to North Texas extremely late in the season. Given how talented both rosters are, we could see a repeat of this very game two weeks later.
Week 13 vs Charlotte
No offense to the wonderful folks in Charlotte, but this should be an easy win for the Owls.
On a scale of 1-10 I’d give this schedule an 8 in terms of difficulty. The Owls draw two of the best teams in C-USA West and their biggest games will be on the road. It’s great that this team has a lot of returning starters because they will play in some tough road venues next season. Experience will be key to escape those games with a win.
I’m leaning towards UCF being the biggest game of the season. Recruiting implications, bragging rights, and of course a chance to be the favorite to earn the NY6 bid will be on the line. But the fact that the Owls have to start conference play with a huge road game to Middle Tennessee the following week is not ideal.
The 2018 season is complete. Which game are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments section.