THE BIG PICTURE
At the end of last season I predicted this would be a breakout season for the Owls. And I am not backing away from that.
This team has a confident air about it that comes from them knowing they had their best offseason ever. They were in every conference game last season, and know what they did wrong that cost them wins and how those losses denied them a special season. That has motivated them to have that season this year.
Preseason camp only reinforced my premonition. This team is ready to play.
Here’s how I see the season unfolding two days before Game 1.
Saturday – Middle Tennessee – WIN – The Owls let the Belt know they are for real.
Sept. 8 – At Oklahoma State – LOSS. Closer than last season, but still not good enough to beat the Cowboys on the road.
Sept. 15 – Minnesota at Dolphin Stadium – LOSS (But close). Gophers are the Big 10s Big Question mark. New coach, new scheme, average talent but just big enough in the trenches to squeak out a win.
Sept. 22 – At North Texas – WIN – “Dodgeball” comes to Denton, but FAU has the defense to deflate it.
Sept. 29 – At Kentucky – WIN – I don’t know why, but ever since this game went on the schedule I’ve had a feeling it was an Owls win. Yes, it’s probably the best Kentucky team in a while, but something about The Voice going back to his alma mater where fans still are mad that the Wildcats didn’t hire him and Louisville did makes it even more surreal.
Oct. 6 – South Florida – LOSS – A bad year to take on the Bulls, who are a solid team that could make waves in the Big East.
Oct. 20 – At Louisiana-Lafayette – WIN – For some reason FAU has the Cajun’s number.
Oct. 27 – Louisiana-Monroe – WIN – The Warhawks are up and down, but FAU should handle them no matter where they are.
Nov. 10 – Arkansas State – WIN – By this point in the season, FAU’s defense will know how to beat the spread offense in their sleep.
Nov. 17 – at Florida – LOSS – This one could get ugly. The Owls are not ready for one of the top SEC teams.
Nov. 24 – at FIU – WIN – Closer than last year, but the Golden Panthers will need another season to make this rivalry competitive again.
Dec. 1 – at Troy – LOSS – The Trojans have FAU’s number, and it always seems like the game is in Alabama. Don’t know why, but Troy brings out the worst in the Owls, and expect a couple big plays to keep FAU from running the table in the Belt.
Totals: 7-5, 6-1 in the Belt and in the New Orleans Bowl. Go ahead and buy your tickets.
Of course, that is my glass half full scenario.
A cynical scribe, or glass half empty type, might predict 5-7, 0-5 in non-conference and 5-2 in the Belt. I believe that would be worst-case scenario.
OK, with that out of the way, we'll keep the focus on why FAU should beat the Blue Raiders in upcoming reports, which will have pix and vids, plus celebrity guest predictions.
Flashback No. 3 – Oct. 15, 2005
FAU fans may have pushed the 2005 season from their memories, because it was as lamentable as it was forgettable.
The way the team was built, with a bunch of true and redshirt freshmen that played all four years and as juniors and seniors went 20-6, meant payback was going to be a bitch, and it was, and 2005 was the year.
All those four and five-year starters were gone, leaving a bunch of untested freshmen and sophomores to wander into FAU’s first full season in Division I-A. And it wasn’t pretty.
When FAU hosted Middle Tennessee, the Owls were 1-5 and headed for a 2-9 season. This would be the only one of the four games between MTSU and FAU that wasn’t close.
The Blue Raiders found out early on they could run over and through the Owls with their big offensive line making holes for Eugene Gross. Gross would carry the ball 30 times for 131 yards and four touchdowns.
Meanwhile, FAU QB Danny Embick threw three interceptions as the Raiders defense overwhelmed the Owls.
The Owls did close the gap to 21-14 in the third quarter, but the Raiders responded with a 12-play, 69-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard TD run by Gross to regain control of the game.
The final was 35-14, and MTSU had its first win over FAU after two straight losses.