There was a lot of hype surrounding Florida Atlantic prior to the season.
Pretty high expectations from both the oddsmakers and the press for one of the new members of the 14-team league.
So far, the non-conference slate hasn’t been the greatest for the Owls (1-3). And soon we’ll find out if the initiation to league play is any better. Conference play is off to a good start for FAU, who edged out Tulsa last week to win its first AAC game. The win didn’t come easy as the Owls had to hold off a late comeback attempt by the Golden Hurricane.
The rest of conference play won’t come much easier.
Place College Football Wagers at BetMGM
This week the Owls travel to play a gritty USF team before hosting UTSA. The Roadrunners have had their struggles this season but should get things rolling again soon. FAU avoids Memphis and SMU but there doesn’t seem like there are any easy wins in this league this season.
As of right now, hitting the over 7.5 wins looks unlikely and even getting to a bowl game might be a stretch.
If the Owls want to make that happen, they’ll need to get some more out of their offense and new QB Daniel Richardson. Richardson took the starting job after Casey Thompson suffered a torn ACL in Week 3 against Clemson.
In his first start, Richardson almost led FAU to an upset win over Illinois. He helped put the Owls ahead 10-0 in the first quarter before they ultimately lost 23-17. Richardson has passed for 520 yards, two TDs, and three interceptions this year. He passed for over 4,600 yards and 39 scores in his last two seasons as Central Michigan’s starter.
FAU currently ranks third to last in the conference with 340.4 total YPG and second to last with just 20.6 PPG.
The defense has been a little better but still hasn’t met expectations. It’s surrendering 393.6 YPG and 25 PPG. It has kept the game within reach in FAU’s losses to Ohio and Illinois and limited Tulsa to just 17 points in last week’s win.
Eighteen starters returned for the Owls in Tom Herman’s first year at the helm. Ten of those players were on defense, so they should continue to only get better.
Herman has certainly found success in his career, going 22-4 in two seasons with Houston before a four-year stint in Texas where he was 32-18. In each of his six seasons, he has guided his team to a bowl game and gone 5-1 in those games.
The odds have gotten longer from +700 to +1000, but FAU is still the fifth favorite to win the AAC despite its early season struggles. I would have expected a bigger change, especially considering some of the teams in the league look better than anticipated.
Based on Herman’s success and its experienced roster, I can see FAU winning four of its last seven games and clinching a bowl berth. There are nine bowl games tied in to the AAC, so the opportunities are there.
The Owls just need to capitalize on them and take advantage of the fact that they don’t play two of the top teams in the league.