BOCA RATON – We go football heavy as we continue to countdown the Top 25 FAU Games Ever Played with Nos. 15-11. Some of FAU’s greatest wins and losses land in this portion of the countdown, including the game that launched a program.
Like many lists, this one actually began as a bar conversation between a group of people who’ve been around FAU athletics for a while. At first we were simply considering the greatest game FAU ever played.
We eventually broadened the conversation, then expanded it again until we created a list of the Top 25 FAU games ever played. In ranking the games we considered the general entertainment value of that particular game, the importance of the win (or loss), and whether the game is still a topic of discussion.
We’re listing the games from No. 25 to No. 11 over three days, each daily story highlighting five games. Once we reach the Top 10, we’ll dive a little deeper into each contest.
Top 25 FAU Games Ever Played (15-11)
No. 15: Slippery Rock 40, FAU Football 7 (Sept. 1, 2001) – It’s the game that started it all for FAU. The Owls took the field at Pro Player Stadium in front of an announced crowd of more than 25,000 for the first game in program history. Quarterback Garrett Jahn won a coin toss over Jared Allen to earn the first start under center, but the bigger story revolved around who didn’t play. A mistake in the NCAA certification process left 13 players – including seven starters – ineligible for the program’s first game. The shorthanded Owls trailed 33-0 at the half. FAU’s lone points came late in the third quarter when Todd Poitier blocked a punt, then recovered it in the end zone. Unlike nearly every other game in this countdown, this one didn’t make the Top 25 because of the action on the field. Instead, the Slippery Rock game makes the list because it was the launch of something special. There would be no Lane Kiffin and the Lane Train if it wasn’t for Howard Schnellenberger and Schnelly’s dream. This game marked the on-field start of Howard Schnellenberger’s vision. At the time it was the most anticipated single game in school history. It likely still ranks in the Top 5 in that category. FAU quickly corrected its eligibility issues, and the Owls rebounded one week later to knock off nationally ranked Bethune-Cookman.
No. 14: No. 8 Florida 20, FAU Football 14 (OT, Nov. 21, 2015) – Heading to The Swamp as a 31-point underdog sporting a 2-8 record, no one in their right mind gave FAU much of a chance to beat the SEC Title Game-bound Gators. Yet, at halftime the game was scoreless. Florida jumped to a 14-0 lead with two third-quarter scores, but FAU responded shortly before the end of the quarter with a Jaquez Johnson-to-Kalib Woods 10 yard connection. The Owls then silenced a sold out Swamp when Trey Hendrickson sacked Florida quarterback Treon Harris in the end zone, forcing a fumble that Ocie Rose recovered, tying the score at 14. Florida scored a touchdown on the first possession of overtime, but Nick Internicola blocked the extra point, giving the Owls a chance to pull the upset with a touchdown and successful conversion. FAU drove inside the 10, but a sack followed by three incompletions – two of which could have been defensive pass interference – gave the Gators their escape. For some Owl fans, this is their most memorable game, but it lands outside the Top 10 because FAU couldn’t capitalize on the performance. One year later FAU fired coach Charlie Partridge.
No. 13: FAU 35, Hawaii 28 (OT, Sept 4, 2004) – FAU headed to Hawaii as Hurricane Frances was about to strike South Florida. Led by quarterback Timmy Chang, who would become the NCAA’s all-time leading passer, Hawaii usually made short work of non-conference visitors from the mainland. Hawaii seemed destined to extend that streak until Jared Allen found Anthony Crissinger-Hill on fourth-and-11 for a 31-yard touchdown with 23 seconds remaining to tie the score at 28. All the Owls needed to pull the biggest upset in program history was the extra point, but the Warriors blocked it, sending the game to overtime. Doug Parker scored on a seven-yard run and FAU’s defense stopped Hawaii on downs to secure the win. In arguably the greatest receiving game in program history, Crissinger-Hill caught 15 passes for 183 yards. To this day, however, many FAU fans know little to nothing about the victory, as Frances knocked out power to South Florida for much of the weekend.
No. 12: FAU Football 42, Minnesota 39 (Sept 15, 2007) – The young FAU football program played eight teams from what are currently considered Power 5 conferences, losing every time. Then Minnesota came to Miami Gardens. Rusty Smith threw for 463 yards and five touchdowns in his national breakout. Tied at 14 after one quarter, a Charles Pierre 2-yard touchdown run, and touchdown catches by Lester Jean and DiIvory Edgecomb highlighted a 21-point second quarter for the Owls. Conshario Johnson’s 16-yard TD catch early in the fourth quarter gave the Owls a 42-24 lead. The Gophers stormed back with two touchdowns. FAU’s offense ate up all but the final 33 seconds of game, leaving Minnesota needing to drive about 50 yards to attempt a potential game-tying field goal. Minnesota got close, but on a first-and-10 from the FAU 36, freshman quarterback Tavious Polo nabbed his third interception of the game, thwarting the threat. FAU took a knee one final time, giving the Owls their first – and to this point only – victory over a Power 5 school.
No. 11: FAU Football 20, MTSU 19 (Aug. 28, 2003) – FAU won six games over its first two seasons, but none of those victories came over a Division I team. The Owls opened the 2003 season as a heavy underdog at Division I Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders led 19-7 with a little more than 6 minutes remaining in Murfreesboro, Tenn., when Jared Allen caught fire. A 7-yard touchdown pass to Roosevelt Bynes drew the Owls to within one possession with less than three minutes remaining. The Owls didn’t recover the onside kick, but did force a three-and-out. FAU had the ball at it’s own 2-yard line and needed ever bit of the 1:42 remaining. With time running out, Allen bobbled the snap, rolled left then saw Bynes streaking downfield. Bynes hauled in the pass as a couple MTSU defenders misplayed the ball. The receiver then raced to the end zone for a 62-yard score as time expired, giving the Owls a one-point win, and their first victory over a Division I team. The Allen-to-Bynes last-second touchdown is not only one of the most famous plays in FAU history, it also launched FAU on a season that lasted all the way to the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals.
Previous FAU Top 25 Game Rankings