FAU couldn’t sustain the momentum from 2017’s 11-win season that included the Owls’ first Conference USA championship and the Boca Bowl title.
In retrospect, it’s possible that the Owls never could have lived up to the lofty expectations many thrust upon them. FAU was a trendy pick to upset powerhouse Oklahoma in the season opener but the Owls didn’t appear ready for a game thy ultimately lost by nearly 50. Of course that didn’t stop the FAU alumni association from proclaiming that FAU had, in fact, won the game in a fundraising email sent hours after the loss – an email that, oddly enough, FAU never retracted or even corrected.
The Owls’ kicking game proved so inept that quarterback Chris Robison, master of the quick kick, arguably deserved special teams MVP honors.
FAU surrendered 56 points in the highly anticipated national-televised blowout loss to UCF.
The Owls also found creative ways to lose games. Seriously, who loses on a Hail Mary two-point conversion? FAU does to MTSU.
FAU knocked Conference USA’s best quarterback, North Texas; Mason Fine, out of the game only to see his backup score two touchdowns in a crushing Mean Green win.
The Owls entered the final two weeks of the season needing to win one of its final two games to become bowl eligible, but after that North Texas loss, they played uninspired football against a Charlotte squad with a lame duck coaching staff, falling 27-24.
FAU football produced plenty of storylines in 2018. The Owls played well at times, but ultimately appeared to lack the hunger and the execution they showed in Lane Kiffin’s first year.
What We Wrote About FAU’s Disappointing Season
- Kiffin Attempting Toto Temper Expectations Heading to Oklahoma
- Wait, What? FAU Alumni Association Says Owls Won Game Lost By 50
- Sloppy Night: FAU Falls at UCF
- FAU Falls to MTSU on 2-Point Hail Mary
- Midseason Review: FAU Offense
- Midseason Review: FAU Defense
- FAU Comes up Short at North Texas
- FAU to Spend Bowl Season Home Alone
Why FAU’s Disappointing 2018 is Important
Let’s start from this point: Two years ago a 5-7 season would have been hailed as progress. The Owls were blown out in a couple games by better teams, but FAU had a shot to win most others.
Kiffin is fond of saying that everything went right for FAU in 2017 and all those close breaks went against FAU in 2018 – and he makes a good case. Had that MTSU Hail Mary fallen incomplete, a play the defense appeared to have stopped, the Owls would have been bowl eligible. Had FAU made one more stop defensively or not collapsed so often late offensively, fans would be relishing a second-consecutive winning season.
And it’s not like there weren’t some high points. FAU fans enjoyed 12 more games of Devin Singletary’s magic. Kerrith Whyte delivered only the second kickoff return for touchdown in program history. Linebacker Rashad Smith emerged as an elite playmaker.
Howard Schnellenberger Field rocked at times – especially early in the season. To be clear, the 2018 FAU football season wasn’t a total loss. Overall, the program remains better – in many ways significantly better – than it was two years ago.
However, FAU missed a major opportunity to capitalize on the successes from 2017, both on and off the field. And it’s the off-field shortcomings produced by the losing season that land the football season at this spot in the countdown.
As FAU struggled toward the end of the season, crowds noticeably shrank. The community jumped off the Lane Train much as it has Tri-Rail and Brightline. FAU is desperately attempting to build a fan base and become relevant within the South Florida football community, and 2018 proved that one excellent season isn’t enough.
For all the progress FAU made in 2017, the Owls gave most of those gains back in 2018. As much as South Florida loves winners, locals easily dismiss teams that aren’t winning. They lose interest. And that’s what happened at the end of last season.
All is not lost, however. FAU has enough athletes to quickly grow back into a force within C-USA. Kiffin remains an elite offensive mind. The Owls continue to take steps forward in marketing the program and improving game day experience
The Owls took a step back in 2017.
Of course, a win over UCF in Boca Raton on Sept. 7 will go a long way to rekindling those gains.
COUNTDOWN OF 2018-19’s TOP FAU STORIES
No. 10: Kiffin Lands Top Recruiting Class
No. 9: Potent Transfer Portal Helps, Hurts
No. 8: FAU Makes Major Facilities Improvements
No. 7: FAU Plays in the CIT Postseason Tournament
No. 6: FAU Baseball Extends Its Excellence
No. 5: FAU’s Defense Disappears
No. 4: FAU Hoops Revival
No. 3: Three Owls Declare Early for NFL Draft
No. 2: The Owls QB Saga