With a win this Saturday, FAU can secure bowl qualification.
The FAU football team is seeking bowl eligibility this Saturday at 12 p.m. for their final game of the regular season at home against the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers.
FAU suffered a disappointing 49-21 loss to Middle Tennessee, while Western Kentucky are already Bowl qualifiers with a 7-5 record.
Corresponding ESPNthe Hilltoppers are 7.5-point favorites to win the matchup.
The University Press Sports Staff gives their latest regular season predictions after the walk 1-3 last week.
Cameron Priest – Sports Editor (5-6)
The Owls’ biggest downfall in last Saturday’s loss was their inability to stop Middle Tennessee through the air. Unfortunately, Western Kentucky also has strong passing attack, which ranks third nationally temporary offense.
FAU will rely on their front seven to consistently press senior quarterback Austin Reed whenever they have a chance to slow the Hilltoppers offense. However, this was another area where the Owls struggled last week as they didn’t record casualties.
On offense, expect FAU to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible. Though the Owls accounted for just 35 yards in rushing yards last week, running backs Larry McCammon III and Zuberi Mobley made consistent contributions all season.
Letting the ball run allows FAU to control the clock and keep their defense off the field, which has to happen if they want to create the upset. However, the Owls haven’t shown enough consistency to go into the matchup with confidence.
Prognosis: WKU 41, FAU 21
Richard Pereira – News Editor (7-4)
FAU have their backs to the wall ahead of the season finale against Western Kentucky.
Qualified quarterback N’Kosi Perry has to prevail with his passing game against the Hilltoppers. He threw for 325 yards on 19 of 36 completions against the Blue Raiders last week and needs to maintain that streak to give FAU a chance against opposing defenses.
The owls need to protect Perry better. They conceded four sacks against Middle Tennessee, and with Western Kentucky averaging 2.3 sacks per game, they need to hold their own to give him the time he needs to make games.
Limiting production from Western Kentucky quarterback Austin Reed will be key to FAU’s defense. He has thrown 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season and is averaging 319.75 yards per game. So expect players like defensive lineman Evan Anderson and outside linebacker Jaylen Wester to put constant pressure on him.
If the Owls get through on both sides of the field, they’ll be able to pull off the excitement to secure bowl eligibility. If not, they will enter an off-season of uncertainty before attending next year’s American Athletic Conference.
Prognosis: WKU 34, FAU 28
Trey Avant – Staff Writer (8-3)
FAU will have their hands full against one of the best offensives in the nation. Quarterback Austin Reed has been burning opposing secondaries for Western Kentucky all season—Under Reed, WKU has the nation’s third-ranked passing offense. He is also second in the NCAA in passing yards and fourth in passing touchdowns.
The Owls have struggled defending against the pass this season, so they need to focus on generating enough pressure to force Reed into errors.
The strength of the FAU lies in the running game. Running backs Larry McCammon III and Zuberi Mobley are solid double strikes from the backfield, while quarterback N’Kosi Perry has the ability to call off a big run at any time.
While FAU could find success running the ball, the Hilltoppers’ offense is too explosive to keep up.
The Owls need to push the ball through the air across the field, and they need Perry to be consistent and get the readings right. He has to take care of the ball and get the ball into the hands of his playmakers.
FAU is 4-1 at home, but WKU is probably the worst matchup for the team.
Prognosis: WKU 63, FAU 21
Kevin Garcia – Staff Writer (4-6)
Head coach Willie Taggart and FAU will be in desperate mode this Saturday against Western Kentucky. The question is, will that be enough to lead FAU to victory?
The Owls have done well in conference play this season, sitting with a 4-3 record against C-USA opponents. However, WKU has a 5-2 record in the C-USA game with impressive victories over Middle Tennessee and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
On paper, the Hilltoppers are not a good matchup for FAU due to their offensive firepower and sharp defense. They allow a conference low of 22.5 points per game on defense.
In order for FAU to be victorious, their offense, led by qualified quarterback N’Kosi Perry, must be strengthened. The pressure is on Perry to perform in what may be the last game of his college career.
Forecast: WKU 38, FAU 30
You will receive information about this or other stories by e-mail [email protected] or tweet the staff: Cameron Priester (@PriesterCameron), Richard Pereira (@Rich26Pereira) and Trey Avant (@TreyAvant3) and Kevin Garcia (@Kevingar658)