Smith passes Owls to upset of Gophers

MIAMI GARDENS - Where it will rank in Florida Atlantic's history is yet to be known, but there is no doubt that Saturday's 42-39 win over Minnesota has vaulted FAU to a new level.

"It means the world," said FAU quarterback Rusty Smith, whose record-setting performance included 463 yards passing along with five touchdowns.

"It's the first time we beat a Big Ten team. That is a big boost for the program. All the big schools know we are out here now," said defensive back Tavious Polo, who had three interceptions.

"It's one of the biggest wins in FAU history," said linebacker Frantz Joseph, who 14 tackles, an interception and fumble recovery.

Coach Howard Schnellenberger was a bit more careful in his assessment, though he did open his postgame news conference at Dolphin Stadium by stating: "Well, I guess hyperbole is in order."

It was FAU's first win over a team from a major conference in 10 tries since 2005, and was the first time Minnesota had lost to a Sun Belt team after 10 consecutive wins.

"What happens after this will determine if this was something really special," Schnellenberger said. "We have to live up to what we have accomplished here today."

That could be difficult, considering what the Owls (2-1) managed to do against the Gophers.

The Owls came out with a new look on offense, using a no-huddle and one back, and it caught Minnesota flat-footed as the Owls roared to a 35-14 halftime lead and ended the game with 580 total yards.

"We set the tone and surprised them a bit. We let them know we had come to play ball," said wide receiver Cortez Gent, who had 109 yards on four catches.

Eight different FAU receivers had two or more catches, and Jason Harmon (104 yards) and Gent each had over 100 receiving yards, another FAU first.

But FAU's win did not come without anxious moments, as Minnesota (1-2) was able to stage a furious comeback in the second half, and had the ball on FAU's 36 with nine seconds left before Polo stepped in front of an Adam Weber pass for his third and most important interception of the game.

It was one of seven turnovers created by the defense, another FAU team record.

"We're not going to win a football game when we turn the ball over seven times" Minnesota coach Tim Brewster said.

"The second half was pretty scary. We knew they were going to come out fighting," said FAU linebacker Cergile Sincere.

"I would be lying to say I wasn't nervous. I just telling myself to keep my composure and go out there and keep making plays," Joseph said.

"When you are in an infancy of a program, a win over a Big Ten team is significant. I intend to make the most of this win for these kids," Schnellenberger said.