SMU OFFENSE (#9) ~ (186 RUSH, 309 PASS) vs. FLORIDA ATLANTIC DEFENSE (#48) ~ (137 RUSH, 234 PASS allowed)!

FLORIDA ATLANTIC OFFENSE (#34) ~ (164 RUSH, 279 PASS)  vs.  SMU DEFENSE (#102) ~ (154 RUSH, 285 PASS allowed)!

SMU (10-2) Record overall.  (7-5) ATS ~ (9) OVER’S / (3) UNDER’S  ****  FLA ATL (10-3) Record overall.  (9-4) ATS ~ (7) OVER’S / (5) UNDER’S


Well at this time of year we usually see some teams entering their Bowl Game missing their Head Coach and in this one we see Florida Atlantic as one of those teams, as their HC Lane Kiffin has moved on to take the Ole Miss job. Veteran Defensive Coach Spencer will take the reins for this Bowl Contest, leaving the team short of it’s Play Caller Kiffin. SMU is led by HC Sonny Dykes, who is (2-0) in his previous two Bowl games as a Head Coach, winning at La. Tech and California. Fla Atlantic is a perfect (3-0) in it’s 3 Bowl game appearances and together they are a combined (5-0) ATS as well. Weather temp is supposed to be a nice 78, but rain is expected all day in Boca Raton on Saturday.

SMU just fell short of a Bowl bid last season, but returned 16 starters and added stud transfer QB Shane Buechele from Texas. He led team to best season in ages with 33 TD passes and only 9 Int’s and 63% pass completions. He was helped on the explosive Offense by another stud, RB X. Jones (1,249 rush yards and 21 TD’s). He rushed for a very solid (5.4) yards per carry. This 9th ranked Offense in the nation is very balanced with 186 rush yards per game and 309 passing, keeping opposing Defenses from overloading Box or the secondary. The Mustangs scored 41 TD’s and 11 FG’s in 68 Red Zone trips, not getting that coveted TD on 1/3rd their Red Zone trips. They are a gambling type team and will go on fourth down often, especially inside the red zone. The SMU Defense is a strange unit when you see that they are ranked #102 in nation but they also rank #2 in the nation with 50 Sacks (second only to powerhouse Ohio State), and also they were the Defense with most Sacks average per game in the entire country. It’s feast or famine if they don’t get to the opposing QB with SMU’s Defense.

On the Road this season SMU has gone (4-2) straight up, losing only to two very good teams on the Road (Navy and Memphis). They did score their season low vs. Navy as they led often and had the game it looked like in their sights, but Navy made some big plays late and beat SMU 35-28.  The Mustangs Offense this season scored 34-39 points (3x), 40-49 points (7x) and 50+ points (1x). The SMU Defense allowed 19 or less (1x), 20-29 points (4x), 30-39 (5x), 40-49 points (0x) and over 50 points (1x). The scores of SMU’s Road games were: WON 37-30, WON 41-38, WON 48-21, WON 34-31 and LOST 54-48 and LOST 35-28. The Offense finished season averaging (39) points per game and the Defense allowed 32 points per game. The team had a net (+46) yards per game over their opponents. SMU Defense allowed 7 opponents to reach the 30 points level (or more).

Florida Atlantic Owls come into this Bowl game with a nice 6 game winning streak as the Offense has really heated up in those 6 wins, scoring 49, 34, 40, 37, 35 and 41 points. They lost their Home Opener to Florida rival Central Florida 48-14, won next two Home games 42-7 and 28-13, before losing again at Home to Marshall 36-31 in Week 8, After that loss though they ran the table, winning impressively in all 3 Home games 37-7, 34-17 and most impressive game all season 49-6 to a really, really good UAB team in the Conference Title game. Kiffin left the team the very next day.

The Owls average 34 points per game and allow only 24 points per game on the Defensive side of the ball. The team has a net (+69) yards per game this season vs. all it’s opponents combined. The Owls returned 13 starters from a disappointing (5-7) season last year, missing a Bowl contest. All 10 of the Owls wins have come by double digits this season with 5 also coming against teams playing in a Bowl this Xmas season. The Offense is led by QB Chris Robison, who has 26 TD’s and only 6 Int’s and the key weapon he loves to get ball to for big plays is stud Tight End Bryant, who averages (15.4) yards per catch during his fantastic (1,004 yards receiving) season. The Owls Offensive Line allowed 16 sacks in it’s 3 losses and only 11 sacks the other 10 games. The Owls Defense surprisingly led the nation with 31 forced turnovers.

The Mustangs Offensive Line allowed QB Buechele to be sacked 17x and the Owls Offensive Line allowed Robison to be sacked 27x. The Owls Offensive Line also sadly allows 8 tackles for Loss per game as well so at times it looks great and other times it’s really leakly. I’d expect SMU to get their sacks but they as well do that well but also get torched on a ton of big plays too.

Both Punters are very weak and likely won’t shift the field to help it’s own Defense. Neither Kicker is much to write home about and SMU only tried 15 FG’s all season (12-15 with long 38). SMU will go for it feeling it’s QB Buechele can get that first down when team needs it. For the Owls their Kicker is (17-24) with a long of 48 points.


This game is very interesting as both are a lot alike in many ways. Both QB’s are capable here of having a huge day, but Robison comes in off back to back less than 50% pass completion games. Dykes would love to make this a track meet as he’s an Offensive guy first and foremost. Hard to know what Interim HC for the Owls Glenn Spencer will want to do here as he’s a Defensive Coach but he I am sure would like to get this win and have the team look exciting doing it. Of course rain can always wreak havoc on any game and Florida often rears it’s ugly Rain Head with some hard pouring games. Check the weather closer to game time for this one. This CHERIBONDI – BOCA RATON BOWL has been played for 5 seasons now and not one was close. The smallest margin of victory has been by 15 points. It’s not really a huge Home edge to the Owls here as they don’t get big crowds at Home during their regular season. I would’ve still expected Fla Atlantic to be the Fav since they are a rare team actually Hosting a Bowl Game, but as we see they are 3 point dogs. Sometimes kids really get fired up to play for the Interim Head Coach and the other half they just go thru the motions.

Enjoy this and all the many Saturday College Football Bowl Games this Christmas Holiday weekend. May all your wagers be “WINNING” ones!

God Bless,

Gary Greene