Start Time: 3:30 p.m. EST, Sept. 11
Location: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fl.
Weather: 89 degrees, 11 mph winds
Betting Line: FAU -7; O/U 48.5
TV: Stadium App/Twitch
Georgia Southern Outlook
The Eagles come into this one on the back of a way-closer-than-it-should-have-been type of win over Gardner-Webb last week, and fans are hoping the team looks sharper on both sides of the ball than it did against its FCS opponent in the previous matchup.
Georgia Southern racked up 500 yards of total offense in last week’s win, but while the number jumps out on the page, it appeared to be closer to empty calories than a fine-dining meal. The truth of the matter is GS failed to convert in the red zone many times in the contest against the Bulldogs, settling for field goals on multiple occasions.
Those kinks on offense need to be ironed out immediately, but I have some doubts those issues will be worked out with a converted running back under center again. Amare Jones was okay in his start, but the real star of the show was freshman Cam Ransom and his gunslinging style. I think if Southern really wants a chance to win in this one, they will need to tweak the offense to cater more towards Ransom’s style and let him take a fair bit of the snaps at quarterback.
Tailback J.D. King could be the shot in the arm this offense needs, as the star runner is still on the mend from his previous season’s ACL tear. Last week made it seem like King still had inflammation from the tear, so who knows when he will play again with how tight-lipped the Eagles are about everything.
Defensively, the secondary was absolutely putrid last week and was a big reason the team gave up 25 points to an FCS school at home. I gave the Eagles the benefit of the doubt last year with 33 players out due to COVID against Campbell, but I can’t make excuses for how they played last week. The corners and safeties were simply bad.
The front-seven will need to play with the same energy it did in Gardner-Webb’s final drive of last week, when it racked up 3 sacks when the Bulldogs attempted to pull ahead late. The back end of the defense desperately needs it.
Florida Atlantic Outlook
The Owls started their 2021 campaign with a rough 35-14 loss to #13 Florida last week, but that was to be expected.
Former Miami Hurricane N’Kosi Perry starts at quarterback for FAU, having thrown for 261 yards and a score while completing just over 57 percent of his pass attempts against the Gators in week one.
From a receiving standpoint, the Owls spread the ball around a fair bit, as three different receivers had at least 50 yards or more in last week’s loss. One name to keep an eye on is sophomore D’Marcus Adams, who had just two catches, but racked up 85 yards against UF, including a long 46-yard completion.
Throwing the football should be FAU’s plan first and foremost to test Southern’s corners considering how poorly the Eagles played last week.
From a rushing perspective, the Owls had two ballcarriers go over the 50 yard threshold last Saturday, in Johnny Ford (52 yards, 1 TD) and Malcolm Davidson. Southern’s front seven should see more rushing volume from its opponent than it did against the Air Raid scheme of the Bulldogs.
Defensively, the Owls were soft upfront on the defensive line last week, albeit against some very talented competition. FAU surrendered 400 yards rushing to the Gators, which is something that will need to be shored up if the Owls want to keep Southern’s run-heavy offense off of the field.
Or Florida Atlantic could just bomb the ball deep on each play and hope to stay out in front on the scoreboard, forcing GS to match score-for-score.
I wish I had better news for Eagle fans, but until Justin Tomlin returns next week and the team can effectively run its gun option scheme, I am going to continue to have doubts about how the offense will execute on a drive-to-drive basis. I think this game goes under the total much like last year, with the two teams offenses struggling to convert in the red zone.
I think FAU wins a close, fairly low scoring game by college standards, just by virtue of having a real starting quarterback in Perry.
Final Score: FAU 21, Georgia Southern 17