FAU will face Southern Methodist in the Dec. 21 Boca Raton Bowl in a battle of 10-win teams.
This will mark the second time in three years that FAU is playing at home for the bowl season. The Owls defeated Akron 50-3 in 2017 following their only other Conference USA title.
The Boca Raton Bowl is one of only six featuring two 10-win teams. Two of the other are the college football playoff semifinal games. Two more are played on New Year’s day. The Cotton Bowl, pitting Penn St. (10-2) against Memphis (12-1) is other game.
Not all FAU fans reacted positively to the news that FAU would once again be playing in Boca Raton, arguing that the Owls deserved a true road trip to an exotic destination like Frisco, Texas as a reward.
“I haven’t heard that,” Spencer said. “If that’s the story out there, everybody’s got their opinion. We’ve got so much to celebrate in this great city, and as coaches,we’ll make it fun for the guys as well as prepare for a win. So there’s a lot of advantages we have to being around here. As long as we make it a reward for these young men everybody’s going to do great. They’re play hard and enjoy themselves.”
Spencer said he hasn’t spoken with players since the announcement of the bowl destination.
Getting the Owls into the Boca Raton Bowl took a little doing from the Owls. Conference USA is one of three conferences with a tie-in to the Boca Raton Bowl, but this was not originally scheduled to be a year that a C-USA team played in South Florida.
The 2019 Boca Bowl was supposed to feature a MAC team against an AAC team. ESPN, which operates the Boca Bowl, moved the game to Saturday this year for the first time in history in hopes of giving the game a bigger profile.
FAU is filling the MAC spot and will be treated during the week as the MAC team would. That means the Owls will be staying at Jupiter’s Wyndham Harborside resort during bowl week, giving the Owls a 40-mile change of scenery. SMU will stay at the Boca Resort.
There was a push to pit FAU (10-3) against either a Power 5 team or a ranked team, an effort that came up a little short. The final ranking wasn’t set until after Saturday’s games. A source told OwlAccess.com that FAU likely would not have been placed in the Boca Raton Bowl had the Owls not won the C-USA title.
Ranked much of the season, SMU (10-2) is the first team listed as “receiving votes” in the current AP Top 25. While the Mustangs of the AAC are not a Power 5 school, they do have a rich football history.
“It’s fantastic,” interim FAU coach Glenn Spencer said. “I’m the interim head coach. You get to go to a bowl game, You get to stay here in town. And then you get a message that it’s SMU and you’re like, Oh no, that’s not good. They’re a tremendous team.”
FAU also received votes in that poll for the first time this season following their 49-6 dismantling of UAB in Saturday’s Conference USA championship game, receiving the fifth most votes of the teams receiving them. It’s entirely possible that the winner of the Boca Bowl will end the season as a ranked team.
The Owls, however will be missing one key component come Dec. 21. Coach Lane Kiffin left FAU following the C-USA title victory, accepting the same position at Mississippi.
The Boca Raton Bowl kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.