Boca Raton Bowl
Akron may be excited to reach a bowl, but it probably isn’t that amped to play in what amounts to a true road Game. Florida Atlantic gets to host Akron on its home field for the Boca Raton Bowl. That’s part of the reason the Owls are the biggest favorite of bowl season opening at -17 points and climbing to -22.5 as of Dec. 6 at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
FAU may be at home, but this spread would be over two touchdowns even if it was at a neutral site. Terry Bowden is a respected coach, but the Zips will be outmatched in this Game, similar to how the MAC title Game went. FAU is about at the same level as Toledo, which beat Akron by a combined 93-49 Scoreline in the two Games they played. The one interesting thing is that FAU lost at Buffalo earlier in the season (34-31), a team Akron beat 21-20 at home. That said, the Owls have come a long way since that and are averaging close to 40 points on the season.
There’s a clear factor of motivation, as the Owls don’t get to go anywhere for a bowl, but LAne Kiffin should have his players ready. There is some worry that the C-USA is just bad and FAU had all of its big wins against them and the loss at Buffalo shows that. That said, betting on an Akron defense that’s allowing more than 430 yards per Game will be tough. The MAC doesn’t have many good offenses and the ones Akron faced, the Zips didn’t fair well against.
Florida Atlantic is built around the run Game and that’s where the troubles start for Akron, which allows 5.0 yards per carry. Devin Singletary is having an incredible season with 1,796 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns, while Gregory Howell has been just as viable as the backup. That success has led to Jason Driskel throwing only Four interceptions and getting sacked six times, which are far better numbers than last season. Nothing about Akron’s defense suggests it will stop FAU, which means the Zips will have to score.
The Zips aren’t terrible offensively, but if needed to post 30 to 40 points, that may be out of the question, just like the Toledo losses. It’s likely Bowden will stick with Kato Nelson at quarterback even though Thomas Woodson got some run in the MAC title Game. Nelson has started the last Four Games for the Zips and has looked good at times, but is still completing less than 50 percent of his passes. To keep this Game close, Akron will need to run the ball some, which is something it hasn’t been able to do averaging 3.3 yards per carry as a team.
The Owls give up 4.1 yards per carry and 165 rushing yards per contest so there’s a chance, but it’s worth mentioning Toledo’s defensive numbers are worse than that. In fact, according to numerous metrics, Toledo and Florida Atlantic are as equal as it gets in terms of teams in different conferences. From ESPN’s team efficiency metric to Football OUtsiders’ FEI, the Rockets and Owls are extremely similar. Clearly, it doesn’t help that this is a home Game for FAU.
The Zips are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 Games overall and 6-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record (the loss was the first meeting against Toledo). The Owls have covered in their last five at a neutral site and are 5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Our Pick – Our numbers have this one right around the current posted line. So, no clear cut edge. However, from a motivatonal standpoint, this may be a problem for heavily favored Florida Atlantic. In this type of a setup, we’ll always side with the big dog with nothing to lose. Akron +22.5