After the news of FAU head coach Lane Kiffin leaving Boca Raton for The Grove at Ole Miss, many thought the Owls had no chance in the 2019 Boca Raton Bowl against SMU. The Mustangs won 10 games and entered bowl season looking to avenge a humiliating loss to Louisiana Tech two years ago in Sonny Dykes’ debut in the Frisco Bowl. The line opened with SMU as a 3-point favorite. By kickoff the line ballooned up to 8 points thanks to FAU missing key starters Tim Bonner and Harrison Bryant with their eyes on the NFL Draft, and Deangelo Antonie, Tavaris Harrison, and Akileis Leroy due to a suspension related to academics.
The Owls had already accomplished their goal of winning Conference USA and without their head coach and some key contributors, they had every reason to limp into the Boca Bowl with zero urgency.
What the FAU Owls did instead was play their best game in program history. In front of a national audience on ABC (FAU’s first ever appearance on the network) the Owls (11-2) defeated SMU (10-3) 52-28 to win the 2019 Boca Raton Bowl. With the win FAU remains undefeated in bowl games with a 4-0 record. The win also ties a school record for most wins in a season.
Under interim head coach Glenn Spencer, the defense didn’t miss a beat as the Owls forced two turnovers and shutdown SMU’s vaunted air raid offense. Rashad Smith’s scoop-and-score in the third quarter made it 42-14 and officially put a bow that this Owls unit will go down as the best defense in school history.
Chris Robison was magnificent, going 27-of-37 for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Robison’s performance tonight allowed him to break a couple of school records in the win and cement his status as one of the best players in school history.
With 20 completions tonight, Chris Robison is the new FAU single-season record-holder for completions with 284. Rusty Smith had 281 in 2007.— FAU Football (@FAU_Football) December 21, 2019
Robison also needs 77 yards to break the single-season passing yards mark!
28-14 FAU | 9:00 3Q#BowlingInParadise
THAT'S THE RECORD!!! Robison's 16-yard pass to Wright gives him 301 passing yards on the night and 3,697 for the season, passing Rusty Smith for the FAU single-season record (3,688, 2007).— FAU Football (@FAU_Football) December 21, 2019
42-14 FAU | 13:40 4Q#BowlingInParadise
James Charles and BJ Emmons combined for 126 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. Without Harrison Bryant as the number one target, John Raine proved to be just as capable of doing damage. Raine recorded 6 catches for 68 yards and one touchdown. Brandon Robinson led the Owls with 78 receiving yards and also recorded a touchdown.
Tonight’s performance by the Owls was a complete game and a warning to anyone who thinks FAU will take a step back in 2020 under new head coach Willie Taggart. Glenn Spencer and Charlie Weis Jr. went out with a bang as both coaches showcased that they are more than capable of being apart of a successful program and appear on the verge of potentially joining another Florida school.
#FAU coordinators Charlie Weis Jr (OC) and Glenn Spencer (DC) are both strong candidates to join Jeff Scott's new staff at #USF, I'm hearing. Spencer had been a candidate for the Owls head coaching vacancy.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 21, 2019
The bowl loss is a deflating one for SMU but the Mustangs have a lot to be proud of this season. For the first time since 1984 SMU won 10 games and under Sonny Dykes’ lead appear to be an annual contender in the AAC for the foreseeable future.