Last season the Owls pummeled the Wildcats 45-0, but all wasn’t merry in FAU land. Following that victory Lane Kiffin made a major change, replacing Daniel Parr with Jason Driskel at quarterback.
The Owls appeared to settle their quarterback battle during last week’s 33-27 victory over Air Force, so anything other than a strong performance by Chris Robison against an FCS defense will be a bit of a letdown.
If the game gets out of hand early, all three quarterbacks could play, but analyzing the second-string quarterback battle isn’t nearly as fun, so we’ll set aside the quarterback position for a week.
What can we expect from FAU on Saturday? Here are our bold predictions for FAU’s game against Bethune-Cookman.
FAU OFFENSE vs. BETHUNE-COOKMAN
Chuck King: FAU gets its running game going, and the biggest beneficiary is Kerrith Whyte. Devin Singletary rushed for 109 yards and one touchdown, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry last season against Bethune-Cookman, but Buddy Howell was the Owls’ leading rusher, racing to 175 yards and a score. Singletary gets his yards on Saturday and the touchdown streak continues, but Lane Kiffin elects to rest him in the second half. Whyte takes advantage of a worn out Wildcat defense to post some big runs. He’ll also have a pretty good receiving day out of the backfield.
Wajih AlBaroudi: Pico Harrison finds the end zone. One of the questions heading into the season was who was going to fill the receiver spot opposite Jovon Durante and outside of slot extraordinaire Willie Wright. Harrison has taken that job and ran with it. His 195 receiving yards through two games ranks seventh in Conference USA. Among the Top 10 in that category, he is the only one without a touchdown to his name. The volume is there along with the big-play potential – 17.7 yards per catch – making a score bound to come his way sooner rather than later.
FAU DEFENSE vs. BETHUNE-COOKMAN
King: FAU’s pass rush comes alive, recording at least six sacks. Earnest Bagner leads the Owls with two sacks on the season. He’ll double that total – at least – on Saturday. A graduate of Daytona-Mainland, Kevin McCrary records one against his hometown school. Leighton McCarthy and Kain Daub get their first sacks of the year. And someone will come off the two deep to get one.
AlBaroudi: The Owls hold Bethune-Cookman scoreless. Outside of quarterback Akevious Williams and a couple of decent wide receivers, the Wildcats are a mess offensively. They could muster only three points against Tennessee State in Week 1, struggling to balance their pass game with a middling rushing attack. Williams is the only Bethune-Cookman player with double-digit carries through the season’s first two games, his team devoid even the slightest semblance of a playmaker in the backfield. FAU shutout Bethune last season in a dominating 45-0 win. All signs point to a similar result holding true this Saturday.
BETHUNE-COOKMAN WEEK WILDCARD
King: Five different Owls wear the Touchdown Chain – and one of them will be a defensive player. On Tuesday we gave FAU fans their first inside look at the Owls’ new Touchdown Chain. On Saturday, everyone will be writing about it. Going to wuss out here and not name the five, but some of the possibilities include Robison’s first rushing touchdown, the aforementioned Whyte, tight end Harrison Bryant and, defensively, James Pierre with another big day.
AlBaroudi: FAU’s freshmen will show star potential. A new NCAA rule allows players to appear in up to four games in a given season without losing redshirt status, giving them an opportunity to play in live game action without burning a year of eligibility. Given the nature of this game – the Owls expected to win big – promising first-year players could see the field for a large chunk of the second half. Offensive tackle Doug Johnson Jr., defensive end Jaylen Joyner, and safety Armani Adams highlight the players worth keeping an eye on that could make an impact for FAU as early as next season.