FAU pummeled SMU 52-28 in the Boca Raton Bowl, giving the Owls their second 11-win season in three years, along with their second Boca Bowl title.
“It’s a testament to them what they accomplished,” interim coach Glenn Spencer said. “This just one of those feel good things that the game off football brings out every once in a while.”
Florida Atlantic remained perfect in bowl games, pushing its record to 4-0.
Playing without second-team All-Conference linebacker Keke Leroy, suspended for academic reasons, and injured starting defensive end Tim Bonner, the Owls’ defense still managed to throttle a Mustangs offense that entered the game as the No. 6 scoring team in the nation.
Playing his last game for FAU, senior linebacker Rashad Smith led the Owls in tackles with 11, returned a fumble for a touchdown and intercepted a pass.
Offensively the Owls didn’t have starting receivers Pico Harrison and DeAngelo Antonine, both suspended for academic reasons, nor All-American tight end Harrison Bryant, yet they still managed to race past the Mustangs.
FAU quarterback Chris Robison threw for 305 and two touchdowns to claim Offensive MVP honors, leading the Owls to 521 total yards.
FAU also didn’t miss coach Lane Kiffin, who left to become the coach at Mississippi following the Owls’ Conference USA championship win two weeks ago.
Coaching the Owls in Kiffin’s place, defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer won his first game as head coach since he led Division II West Georgia in 2000.
Citing the Owls’ blowout of UAB in the C-USA championship and the throttling of SMU on Saturday, Spencer sees the 2019 Owls as an elite team within the program.
“They are the greatest team that FAU has ever had and I got to be a part of that,” Spencer said.
Tied at 14 in the second quarter, FAU took control of the game shortly before half. The Owls capped a 75-yard drive with James Charles’ second 1-yard touchdown of the evening to take the lead for good.
On the ensuing SMU play from scrimmage linebacker Rashad Smith nabbed his second interception of the season. One play later, FAU Robison found Brandon Robinson, a walk-on receiver elevated to the starting role because of the suspensions, for a13-yard touchdown that gave FAU a two-touchdown lead at the half..
The Owls would put the game away with a 14 point third quarter which included 32-yard fumble recovery for a score by Smith to make it 42-14. Smith also led the Owls in tackles with 11, earning Defensive MVP honors.
The Owls would rush for 184 yards and three touchdowns. Running back B.J. Emmons lead the owls as he had 17 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Former Florida St. coach Willie Taggart, hired last week, now takes over for Spencer.
– Matt Wilson contributed to this story