SMU (10-2) head to Boca Raton to face Florida Atlantic (10-3) in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl. What’s nice for FAU is that this will be a defacto home game for the Owls. Traveling around the holidays must be rough. However, FAU head coach Lane Kiffin has departed for Ole Miss, and will not be coaching in their bowl game. This might make it hard for the Owls to be motivated in their season finale. As of writing this, 79 percent of the tickets are coming in on SMU -3, and 51 percent are going over 69.5 points.
Date: Saturday, December 21, 2019
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Location: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida
SMU’s offense was fun to watch this season. They were fifth in scoring offense averaging 43 points per game, and averaged 6.1 yards per play (27th). Overall their success rate on offense was 55th, and ranked 36th in explosiveness. A big reason why they put up so many points was because they averaged 81 plays per game. The Mustangs could struggle to move the ball against an FAU defense that ranked 16th in success rate this season. Also, FAU does have the edge on the line in this game as well. This will make it tough for SMU to run the ball. However, their biggest strength is their explosive pass offense. Quarterback Shane Buechele lead the way for the Mustangs offense that ranks 17th in passing explosiveness. FAU struggles to defend explosive pass plays as they rank 58th in that category. Look for SMU to light it up for one last time this season against the Owls offense.
SMU has an interesting task on defense this Saturday. On one end, their defense ranks 38th in success, and should be able to limit an FAU offense that ranks 79th. On the other end, SMU is one of the worst defense’s teams in the country in limiting explosive plays (125th). Florida Atlantic ranks third in explosive offense. Overall, this is the one weakness SMU has in their matchup against FAU. The Mustangs have the edge in the trenches, and rank 11th in havoc created. They will be able to limit FAU in both the passing and rushing game, but the explosive plays are going to be a huge liability. Now, with Lane Kiffin gone, this could change things, but if FAU comes out strong on offense, then expect a high scoring game from these two.
Florida Atlantic Analysis
Florida Atlantic’s offense is averaging 34.7 points per game (19th) thanks to their explosiveness, as they rank third in the country in that category. However, the Owls offense ranks 79th in success rate, and average 5.7 yards per play (57th). Their offense comes from hitting big plays. Fortunately, SMU struggles to defend explosive offenses. The Mustangs rank 125th in explosive defense, 100th in rushing explosiveness and 115th in passing explosiveness. The Owls are going to be able to hit big plays and score points because of SMU defensive efficiencies. Overall, SMU does have an edge in passing and rushing success over FAU. However, the Owls will be able to move the football by hitting big plays all game.
FAU has a strong defense that ranks 16th in the nation in success rate. Their front seven should handle SMU’s offensive line well, and rank 40th in havoc created. In terms of success rate, the Owls do have an edge over the Mustangs. Similar to SMU’s defense, they struggle defending explosive offenses. They rank 103rd in explosive defense as SMU’s explosive offense ranks 31st. Now, SMU will struggle to create explosive rushing plays since they rank 90th in rushing explosiveness. Even though the Owls rank 113th in defending big run plays, they should be ok throughout.The problem is FAU ranks 58th in limiting explosive pass plays as SMU’s explosive passing offense ranks 17th. SMU creates their offense around their passing game, so this could be an issue Saturday.
Betting Pick: SMU -3
With Lane Kiffin departing FAU, it’s hard to tell where his former players heads will be for this weekend. In Kiffin’s final game at FAU they dominated UAB in the Conference USA Final 49-6. However, he won’t be on the sideline this weekend, so it’s hard to say FAU will be ready for this game. Also, SMU had their best season since the Pony Express, so they should be fired up to finish off their season with a win. The Owls might not care about the defacto home game they have without their guy.