Florida Atlantic was hyped heading into LAne Kiffin’s first season in charge and for the most part, lived up to it, finishing at 11-3 and undefeated in Conference play after just three total wins in 2016. Similar success is expected for the Owls even with a new quarterback in 2018. Their odds to win Conference-USA are at -110 to go with an over/under of 8.5 wins at 5Dimes Sportsbook. New coordinators on offense (Charlie Weis Jr.) and defense (Tony Pecoraro) aren’t expected to change much.
Replacing Jason Driskel won’t be easy, but there are plenty of returning playmakers to keep the offense afloat, even after averaging 40 points per Game. That’s headlined by running back Devin Singletary (+20000 for Heisman), who had a monster season exploding for 1,920 yards and 32 touchdowns on 301 carries to go with 19 receptions and 198 more yards. Reaching those numbers again will be difficult behind a line that lost three starters, but it’s not like the group will completely fall off. And while Driskel got the job done for this offense, he wasn’t overly talented. The quarterback competition between De’Andre Johnson and Chris Robison will go into the fall. Both are talented players as Johnson was kicked off Florida State’s team and Robison from Oklahoma. Receiver should be fine with Willie Wright (657 yards, 6 TDs) still leading the way and WVU transfer Jovon Durante stepping into a starting spot.
Even if the offense takes a step back, the defense will be just as good, if not better after allowing only 22.7 points per Game. With 10 starters returning, this group will be a problem for every C-USA opponent. The back seven will be dominant in Conference play with linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair coming off a 147-tackle season. The secondary is filtered with playmakers from Jalen Young (seven INTs), Shelton Lewis (Four INTs) and Chris Tooley (Four INTs). The line lost one starter, but still has a couple senior starters to work with in end Hunter Snyder and tackle Steven Leggett.
OUtside of the opening trip to Oklahoma and then later in the month to UCF, the Owls could be favored in every other Game this season. For a normal C-USA team, their Schedule is difficult. FAU has to travel to MTSU, Marshall and North Texas, while also hosting Louisiana Tech. Those are the projected top Four teams in the Conference outside of FAU and two of them are in the other division. But after the Owls blew out everyone in the Conference in 2017 with a 41-17 title Game win over North Texas and then the 48-23 win at LA. Tech, there’s no reason to bet against them. Kiffin likes playing with the spread, as seen in a couple Games last year, but that won’t change the win total. If all goes well, another 10-win regular season is possible for the Owls. If they don’t get production from quarterback, eight wins is still the minimum given the talent on defense. Then again, both quarterbacks were recruited to play at top schools so it’s unlikely there will be much of a drop off from Driskel.
2018 Florida Atlantic Owls Football Schedule
Sept. 1 at Oklahoma
Sept. 8 vs. Air Force
Sept. 15 vs. Bethune-Cookman
Sept. 21 at UCF
Sept. 29 at Middle Tennessee
Oct. 6 vs. Old Dominion
Oct. 20 at Marshall
Oct. 26 vs. Louisiana Tech
Nov. 3 at Florida International
Nov. 10 vs. Western Kentucky
Nov. 15 at North Texas
Nov. 24 vs. Charlotte