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FAU faces a must-win against a dangerous Old Dominion team

FAU needs a win to keep conference title hopes alive. ODU needs a win to keep bowl hopes alive.

NCAA Football: Bethune Cookman at Florida Atlantic Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Location: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida

Kickoff: 5:00 PM ET

TV/Stream: Stadium

Betting Odds: FAU -13.5, Over/Under 63

Records: Old Dominion (1-4, 0-2), FAU (2-3, 0-1)

Series Record: The series is tied at 2-2

Last Meeting: FAU 58 Old Dominion 28


FAU Outlook

Earlier this week during Lane Kiffin’s weekly press conference, Kiffin revealed that after the team touched down in South Florida the players issued a team meeting. You’ll recall that last season after the Owls lost to Buffalo and entered conference play 1-3, the players did the same thing. What happened next was history, as the Owls went on to win Conference USA. Fans can only hope that this revelation bodes well for FAU as the Owls face a must-win situation after losing the conference opener to Middle Tennessee.

After blowing an 18-point lead to MTSU, fans and media have wondered whether Kiffin will move on from redshirt freshman Chris Robison. Robison has passed for 1,077 yards with 5 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Despite his up-and-down play this season, backup QBs De’Andre Johnson and Rafe Peavey have barely seen the field. Kiffin has continued to say that if any of the backups outplay Robison during the week then they’ll start.

While it remains to be seen who will be QB1 this week, there’s no question who will be the focal point of the offense as Devin Singletary has rushed for 459 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He owns the C-USA record for most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown at 18 and became Conference USA’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with 56, breaking DeAngelo Williams’ record of 55 when he was a RB for Memphis.

Jovon Durante and Willie Wright are explosive playmakers who have the ability to beat defenses over the top, but as long as Robison continues to be inconsistent they won’t be that impactful. Charlie Weis Jr. and Lane Kiffin enjoys letting Durante and Wright take jet sweeps to test the opposition’s team speed. If ODU is unable corral the two on the edge, they’ll have a hard time stopping the Owls.

Defensively FAU appeared to turn the corner as they had their best performance of the season against MTSU. The Owls didn’t allow a single Blue Raider to rush for over 60 yards and kept Brent Stockstill in check for much of the game. However, Patrick Smith and Ty Lee were able to combine for 11 catches and 151 yards.

Despite the newfound success last week, the Owls still didn’t generate too many disruptive plays, as they only had 1 sack and 6 TFLs. They did force two turnovers though. On the season FAU remains one of the worst teams in generating negative plays as they are 123rd in Overall Havoc Rate.

Old Dominion Outlook

After upsetting Virginia Tech to become the toast of the college football world, ODU travelled to East Carolina and defeated the Pirates. Well, they would have if not for a missed call by C-USA refs. With ECU in field goal position to win the game, ODU recorded an INT but the refs ruled it incomplete. A few plays later ECU scored the game-winning field goal.

It was a tough loss considering the momentum being built around the program. Despite the loss, ODU was every bit the dynamic team they were against Va Tech. Blake LaRussa passed for 250 yards and 2 TDs against ECU, picking up right where he left off against the Hookies. Jonathan Duhart extended his streak of 100-yard receiving games to four against ECU, recording 8 catches for 104 yards. While the offense did have its moments against the Pirates, they only generated 271 total yards. LaRussa has a tendency to hold on to the ball too long as ECU recorded 9 sacks last week, hurting ODU’s rushing output.

Jeremy Cox is still their lead back, rushing for 310 yards and 3 TDs on the season. He’s not all that explosive however, as the Monarchs are 99th in Rushing IsoPPP. Backup RB Lala Davis, a freshman, has shown good speed in his few carries and is a change of pace back who is more than capable of getting the job done should Cox falter.

ODU has a lot going for themselves offensively, but their defense leaves a lot to be desired. Outside of star defensive end Oshane Ximines, the Monarchs struggle to hold their own. ODU is allowing 36 points per game this season. The secondary is a huge sore spot. Despite Ximines’ 6 sacks on the season, the best way to attack ODU is through the air as they rank near the bottom in every advanced stat concerning passing except for Passing IsoPPP, as they do a decent job of not giving up big plays through the air.

Prediction

The road team has won every game in this series. FAU has won eight straight games at FAU Stadium. Something has got to give.

Blake LaRussa has certainly provided a spark for ODU’s offense but his size is a definite liability. At 5’10, ECU tipped a lot of his passes at the line of scrimmage last week. For a defense that struggles creating havoc plays, this is the perfect QB to go up against. While 9 sacks is probably unrealistic, 3 or 4 sacks for the FAU defense with a a few deflections is certainly feasible. If FAU doesn’t get to LaRussa I’m not sold on the secondary stopping Duhart or Travis Fulgham. Fulgham is averaging 16.7 yards per catch and has proven to be a great complimentary to Duhart if teams focus on him too much.

FAU certainly has more upside and being at home helps a ton if Robison does in fact start. At home Robison has passed for 642 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs with a 73 percent completion percentage. This game being at Boca is the difference for me. I like the Owls to win but ODU covers the spread. FAU 42 Old Dominion 34