Florida Atlantic is one of the biggest bowl favorites in the history of postseason games. The Owls are fresh off of a 10-win season and the Conference USA title, and they’re playing against what is perceived to be one of the worst teams in this bowl season, the Akron Zips. That said, the biggest betting favorites this time of year tend to have some issues, and that makes the Boca Raton Bowl one to be cautious of when making picks in our Bowl Game Pick ‘Em Contest.
Akron Bowl History
Akron isn’t exactly a regular in the bowl season. The Zips have only played in two postseason showcases in their history, and this is probably the most notable bowl to date.
Terry Bowden brought Akron to its first-ever bowl win in the Potato Bowl two seasons ago. Now, following a MAC Championship Game appearance, the Zips are back in the postseason once again, and they’re hoping to snare their second-ever bowl victory.
Florida Atlantic Bowl History
Lane Kiffin has done something that only Howard Schnellenberger has done before: He’s bringing the Owls to a bowl game.
Schnellenberger took FAU to the 2007 New Orleans Bowl and the 2008 Motor City Bowl, both games of which were victories.
It’s been a decade since the Owls have been to a bowl, but Kiffin deserves all sorts of credit for bringing them back to December football after the program suffered through three straight 3-9 seasons and eight consecutive non-winning campaigns.
Why Akron Will Win the Boca Raton Bowl
The Zips have found ways to defy the odds all season. They’ve won two games as double-digit underdogs, first against Western Michigan on the road and then against Ohio at home, the latter of which was the de facto MAC East title game.
Akron’s defense tends to be on the opportunistic side. Against Toledo to end the season in the MAC Championship, the Zips forced five turnovers. Sure, they didn’t cash those takeaways in, but if they can force a bunch of giveaways again, they’ll be live underdogs.
Why Florida Atlantic Will Win the Boca Raton Bowl
Devin Singletary could be in for a huge day at the Boca Raton Bowl. He has 1,794 rushing yards and 30 total scores on the season. Conference USA doesn’t allow a slew of defensive challenges, but it’s not like the Zips are huge up front. In fact, Akron’s front seven is one of the smaller in the MAC, and that should play right into the hands of the athletic offensive line for Florida Atlantic.
FAU has scored at least 30 points in its last 11 games; Akron has scored 30-plus just once since October 7. The Owls have also tallied at least 41 points in six of their last eight games; the Zips only topped 34 points once this year, and that came against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Boca Raton Bowl Prediction
This truly is the mismatch of the bowl season. The Owls were always primed for a better season with 18 returning starters from last year’s team, and having Kiffin running the show has only made matters better for the team.
If Akron had Thomas Woodson in this game, we’d feel a lot better about its prospects. But Kato Nelson didn’t look ready for the moment in the MAC title game, and true freshmen in bowl games don’t tend to fare well, especially against experienced defenses.
Though we would never be caught dead laying three touchdowns in any game played this time of year, we don’t foresee problems for the Owls with what is turning into a fairly big group of supporters at home in Boca Raton.
Boca Raton Bowl Pick: Florida Atlantic 38, Akron 21
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