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FAU vs Air Force: Preview & Prediction

The Lane Train looks to get back on track against Air Force

Marshall v Florida Atlantic Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

After laying an egg on the big stage last week against Oklahoma, the Owls will look to bounce back back this weekend in their home opener against Air Force. This will be the second straight season FAU will play a service academy after opening the 2017 season with a loss against Navy.

Date: Saturday, September 8th, 2018

Kickoff time: 2pm ET

Location: Boca Raton, Florida, at FAU Stadium

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: ESPN West Palm 106.3 FM

Betting line: Florida Atlantic -9.5, Over/Under 66

Series record: No previous meetings


Outlook

After taking it on the chin against OU, the buzz around the program has simmered down a bit. If nothing more, the Owls are back to hunkering down and getting back to the basics.

On offense the Owls only averaged 4.3 yards per play in the season opener. While it’s fair to say that last week’s output should get better as the Owls won’t see the type of defense OU possesses, I’m worried that we could expect a similar output this weekend.

Inconsistency at quarterback is still an issue. Chris Robison appears to be the starter heading into the game but unless his accuracy improves, I’d like to see a run-first offense similar to last season. While Devin Singletary should have an improved game, he might not dominate the way we’re accustomed to seeing.

Air Force (1-0) has been solid under Troy Calhoun. In 11 years with Calhoun at the helm, they’ve only missed a bowl game twice and have had back-to-back losing seasons once. This is a solid G5 program who has gone to nine bowl games in 11 years. They will expect to win on Saturday. Last week Air Force held Stony Brook to just 1.5 yards per play in a 38-0 win.

Similar to Navy, the Falcons run a option offense. Unlike Navy, they use some spread offense principles and pass a lot more often. Quarterback Arion Worthman rushed for 66 yards with one touchdown on 6.6 yards per carry and was 2-of-8 for 29 yards. The Falcons did put the ball on the ground, as they had two turnovers, both fumbles.

Time of possession and the ability for the defense to get off the field is something to keep a close eye on. Air Force went for it on fourth down six times last week and converted five of them. We should expect a similar aggressive philosophy from the Falcons, which puts an even bigger onus on the defense’s ability to force third-and-long conversions and prevent fourth-and-short opportunities.

Prediction

While FAU certainly has the better athletes, this game will more or less come down to who can execute their system best. Considering Lane Kiffin has yet to outright name Chris Robison the starting quarterback, I’m worried that Kiffin’s system could be one-dimensional on Saturday yet again. And despite the talent on defense, players are still adjusting to Tony Peccaro’s new system.

FAU starting the season 0-2 with so much talent back from last year’s team is tough to handle but that’s a real possibility. Air Force is not going to lay down and recent history suggests that they could win outright. I see FAU pulling away in the second half behind the play of Motor and a few fourth-down stops from the defense.

FAU 41 Air Force 28