The Owls will attempt to go three-for-three under Lane Kiffin, but unlike the previous two contests they’ll have to do it in Texas.
The temperature is forecast to dip into the low 40s at kickoff, an expected chill that excites quarterback Chris Robison, a Texas native.
What can FAU expect from North Texas later today? Each week our Chuck King and Wajih AlBaroudi offer our Bold Predictions for the upcoming Owls’ game. Here’s what we think could happen during the FAU vs. North Texas game.
FAU OFFENSE vs. NORTH TEXAS
King: De’Andre Johnson has another FIU-like game. With the cold weather limiting the Owls’ passing game, Johnson’s legs give FAU the boost it needs. North Texas has only seen on video what Johnson can do. Trying to defend him at full speed is something altogether different. He gashes the Mean Green for at least one big run, which opens the ability for Johnson to connect on his longest TD pass of the year.
AlBaroudi: Chris Robison has his first big performance on the road. The redshirt-freshman has been up-and-down away from Boca Raton this season, tossing two touchdowns to eight interceptions over five such contests. But the Texas-native passer will put that narrative to bed tonight. FAU will rely on Robison and the air attack more than usual against a stout North Texas run defense that is tied for No. 3 among Conference USA teams in opponent yards per carry (3.1). Robison will respond with three touchdowns and 250 passing yards in what will be a night to remember in his home state.
FAU DEFENSE vs. NORTH TEXAS
King: FAU sacks Mason Fine five times. The Owls sacked the prolific Mean Green QB nine times during the Conference USA title game, but only once in the first meeting of the year. Let’s split the difference. Defensive end Ernest Bagner seems supercharged to meet Fine today. Hunter Snyder’s had a disappointing senior season, but he also enjoys a good game.
AlBaroudi: FAU holds North Texas quarterback Mason Fine to less than 275 passing yards. The Owls secondary has been playing excellent of late, stifling red-hot FIU’s James Morgan to the tune of a pedestrian 29.8 quarterback rating in the Shula Bowl and allowing only 58 first-half passing yards the following week against Western Kentucky. One of the best quarterbacks in the nation, Fine has passed for 275-plus yards in all but two games this season. But the Owls have the firepower it needs on the back end to make it a third tonight.
FAU WILDCARD vs. NORTH TEXAS
King: FAU struggles to stop the Mean Green rushing attack. Starting linebacker Andrew Soroh exited Saturday’s victory with an undisclosed injury and was limited in practice this week. Fellow linebacker Khantrell Burden hasn’t played in a couple weeks. And everyone knows about Azeez Al-Shaair’s season-ending injury. The late-season surge by Akilies Leroy has proven a revelation for FAU, boding well for the future, and Hosea Barnwell picked up his play of late, but North Texas easily exceeds its average of 147.5 yards rushing.
AlBaroudi: The Owls will win on a late game-winning drive. FAU has yet to win a game from behind this year, instead building early leads and maintaining them comfortably by pounding the football on the ground. But against a dynamic North Texas offense, it won’t be afforded that same luxury. This will be a back-and-forth contest up until the final minutes. And Robison will deliver the late-game heroics his team needs for it to come out on top.