BOCA RATON – Anger motivated the Owls throughout their current five game winning streak – anger at past snubs, anger about blowout losses during previous years, anger about a perceived lack of respect from opponents.
And anger about Buffalo.
“Winning is a necessity for us and we don’t want to go back to how we were feeling when it came to Buffalo,” center Antonyo Woods said.
Coming off its first win of the season, FAU headed to Buffalo looking to even its record against a team it thought inferior.
Late in the first half the Owls knocked Buffalo starting quarterback Tyree Jackson, the offensive player the Owls thought most dangerous, out of the game.
The Owls and Bulls entered the half tied, but FAU couldn’t put away Buffalo, losing 34-31.
“It kind of turned us up because you don’t want to feel that feeling again,” running back Buddy Howell said. “It’s a feeling that we had in the past that we didn’t want to revert back to.”
FAU hasn’t felt that feeling since.
The Owls began Conference USA play the following week and haven’t lost since.
“I think we felt that we were better than they were and we went out there and they beat us,” quarterback Jason Driskel said. “We needed to make one play – on offense, especially, One explosive play and the game’s completely different, and we didn’t make it.”
Driskel threw for 150 yards and an interception on 17-of-29 passing against Buffalo – his first start of the season.
Trailing 27-24 late in the fourth quarter and holding the ball at its own nine, FAU failed to produce a first down on four plays, turning the ball over on downs. Three plays later the Bulls found the end zone, pushing their lead to 10.
The Owls managed to quickly return the favor with Devin Singletary’s one-yard run, cutting the lead to 34-31, but never got the ball back.
Driskel’s been inconsistent in the weeks that followed, but he’s done enough to have the Owls sitting a top Conference USA’s East Division heading into Saturday’s game at Louisiana Tech,
“Getting into conference play we got to reset,” Driskel said. “It kind of happened at a good time for us.”
It’s certainly served as a strong motivational tool for coach Lane Kiffin.
A week hasn’t passed where Kiffin didn’t bring up his bewilderment toward what he called the Owls’ “embarrassing” play that afternoon.
“I think everything happens for a reason,” Kiffin said. “Maybe if we would have got by there and scored on that last drive or stopped them and won the game, maybe we wouldn’t have the same kind of an angry mentality the next week and keep rolling from there. I think that they came together and realized all the little things we need to do to be a good team.”