GAME STORY: FAU 52, FIU 24 (Includes Video Highlights)
BOCA RATON – Dancing in the locker room is now a postgame tradition for FAU.
A couple weeks ago video of 77-year old Monte Kiffin dancing following a win made its way through social media. Following Saturday’s Shula Bowl victory, it was Monte’s son, FAU coach Lane Kiffin’s turn to dance.
“We didn’t do anything but scream and shout, FAU linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair said of the locker room celebration. “Coach Kiffin was dancing. I think even the president was dancing at one point.”
He was, through FAU President Dr. John Kelly’s moves may not have been up to code.
“That was funny. That made my night,” Howell said. “Dr. Kelly’s got some work to do.”
GameBrowser: FAU (8-3, 7-0 C-USA) 52, FIU (6-4, 4-3) 24
TURNING POINT: FAU’s offense struggled at times in the first half, but the Owls’ drive late in the first half seemed to kick everything into gear. FAU marched 75 yards in10 plays, and quarterback Jason Driskel’s six-yard touchdown pass to D’Anfernee McGriff gave the Owls a 21-10 halftime lead. FIU would never again be within 10 points.
- After starting the season 1-3, FAU hasn’t lost in Conference USA play. The Owls earned their first C-USA championship game berth – a game that kicks off at noon and the Owls will host. The job Kiffin and his coaching staff are doing to turn these Owls into champions is remarkable – and worthy of the national attention it’s generating.
- FAU running back Devin Singletary can turn any play into a touchdown, as can be seen on his 70-yard TD run in the first quarter. He slips away from some would-be tacklers, bounces off others and has enough speed to go the distance. He now has 24 rushing touchdowns on the season. As a team last year FAU only rushed for 31.
- Jason Driskel is finally looking like a playmaker in this offense. His comfort level with wide receiver Kalib Woods is a big reason why. The duo hooked up seven times for 172 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. This marks consecutive games that teams made Driskel beat them – and with 239 passing yards and four touchdowns, he once again did.
- Linebacker Rashad Smith enjoyed his best game as an Owl, counting three sacks among his eight tackles. Defensive coordinator Chris Kiffin’s scheme put Smith in the backfield frequently. “He came free a lot,” linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair said. “All Rashad can say is thank you to coach [Chris] Kiffin because it was awesome.”
- A power outage to some of the stadium lights and to the lower levels of the press box tower delayed the game for about 10 minutes in the first quarter. FAU also played another game in a steady drizzle that soaked the field for about half the first quarter and nearly the entire second quarter. The Owls are growing accustomed to playing in weird situations.
- Tough afternoon for kicker Greg Joseph, who missed a 52-yard field goal on a poorly struck ball in the rain and also missed an extra point. Joseph started strong but has struggled in recent weeks.
- Tight end Harrison Bryant is becoming a true weapon, catching his fifth touchdown of the season to lead all Owls. If the Owls can incorporate D’Anfernee McGriff into the passing game as they did on Saturday, FAU will be even tougher in the red zone.
1 – Interception for FIU. The Panthers won the turnover battle 1-0.
2 – Times FAU held a craft beer tasting prior to games this year, once before a basketball game and again prior to the Shula Bowl. Both games were disrupted by power outages.
4 – Passing touchdowns for FAU quarterback Jason Driskel,a new career high.
14 – Tackles for Azeez Al-Shaair, most in the game.
56 – Rushing yards for FIU RB Alex Gardner, who had rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past three Shula Bowls.
333 – Rushing yards for FAU. FIU only managed 85.
1,524 – Rushing yards for Devin Singletary this season, and counting – a single-season FAU record.
24,116 – Announced attendance on Saturday. FAU’s attendance figures are always inflated, but this may be the first time the actual attendance was 10,000 less than the announced attendance.
UP NEXT: FAU travels to Charlotte for the final regular season game of the year. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.