FAU (4-5, 2-3 C-USA) vs WKU (1-8, 0-5 C-USA)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 10th, 2 PM PT
TV: Stadium (Facebook)
Radio: ESPN West Palm 106.3 FM/100.7 FM WKLX in Bowling Green
Location: FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL
Betting Line: FAU -20, O/U 58
All-Time Series Record: FAU leads the all-time series 6-3 (FAU won the last game in 2017 42-28)
After pulling off the upset in the Shula Bowl, FAU has galvanized their season as the Owls enter this one with a 4-5 record. With three games left in the season the team is still fighting for bowl eligibility and that is thanks to All-American running back Devin Singletary.
Motor leads the country with 18 rushing touchdowns and has rushed for 1,021 yards with 5.3 yards per carry. Backup RB Kerrith Whyte Jr. is just as explosive as he is averaging 7.0 yards per carry with 602 yards. With Whyte and Motor in the backfield, FAU is averaging 245 rushing yards per game and those numbers could improve down the stretch if De’Andre Johnson is the starting QB going forward. Johnson subbed in for Chris Robison against FIU and had one of the best games of his career, as he passed for 67 yards and two touchdowns whiled adding 50 yards on the ground. Johnson’s ability to run the ball is huge in this offense as it allows Motor and Whyte more space to operate in as WKU’s defense must account for Johnson’s ability to run the ball.
Although Johnson stole the show last week, the story of the game was really FAU’s defense. FAU’s defense has really turned a corner since their bye week a few weeks ago. In their last three games, the defense is allowing 22 points per game. Against FIU, the Owls forced a season-high three turnovers.
FAU has blitzed a lot under Tony Peccaro and I expect that trend to continue. Due to their blitzing tendencies, the onus will be on the secondary to continue their improved play. Jalen Young and Zyon Gilbert will be tasked with the ability to make tackles in space and both have done a pretty good job over the last few weeks. Despite the improved play, the best way to attack this defense is to have your receivers win their one-on-one matchups. FAU has a paltry five interceptions this season and three of them are by LB Rashad Smith.
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are 1-8. It’s tough to things to praise about them right now. The offense is a far cry from the Jeff Brohm days that casual C-USA fans may equate to WKU football. Behind a carousel of quarterbacks that has included Drew Eckels, Davis Shanley, and Steven Duncan, the Tops are putting up the third-fewest points in the league right now with 18.7 per game. While the passing game has had moments here and there, the running game has once again been extremely bad this year. WKU has not had a player rush for over 100 yards in a game since Mike Sanford Jr. became the head coach.
Arguably the strongest part of WKU’s game right now is kicker/punter Alex Rinella. Rinella punted seven times in his team’s last outing against MTSU with four of them going 50+ yards and four landing inside of the 20. Nothing against Rinella, but when a team’s punting is the first thing that comes to your mind as being praise-worthy about a team, that’s not a good sign.
If WKU wants any shot of winning, they’re going to need to keep FAU’s run game in check at least somewhat. Linebacker Ben Holt has been making tackles in large quantities with 88 total on the year. That’s third in the league. The issue is that only five of those have been for a loss this year...and that’s the highest TFL total on the team. The Tops simply need to be getting more guys into the backfield if they hope to get another victory.
Cyrus: FAU is the most penalized team in the conference. Fortunately for the Owls, WKU ranks right behind them so we could see the refs a lot in this one. The reason I’m bringing up penalties is because FAU has killed themselves with costly penalties this season and in a game where the Owls are the more talented team, that could be the difference between a blowout and a close game. Considering the state of WKU football right now, it’s hard for me to see them pulling off the upset. FAU has more to play for and will be at home to boot. If De’Andre Johnson indeed gets the start and sees the most snaps, I like the Owls to win big. FAU 45 WKU 20
Joe: While FAU clearly hasn’t met expectations thus far, WKU hasn’t even come close. I think even if Devin Singletary has an off night for some reason, the Owls are still going to find a way to get a victory here. FAU 28, WKU 16