The atmosphere and anticipation in and around the stadium brought by the first major football game ever played in Boca Raton elevates FAU’s 2015 contest against Miami to the No. 4 spot on our countdown of the Top 25 FAU Games Ever Played.
FAU lost it’s season-opener that year to Tulsa 47-44 in overtime one week prior, but that didn’t seem to matter much. Everyone looked forward to the home opener – a Week 2 date with true Hurricanes. Miami helped fill the stadium with a crowd that drowned on-field conversations.
Having entered the Top 10 in our countdown of the Top 25 FAU Games Ever Played, we’ve changed the format a bit. We’ll delve a little deeper into each game and implications on FAU’s athletic department. We’ve also asked some guest contributors to provide their thoughts on the games and the rankings.
No. 4 FAU Game Ever Played
Miami 44, FAU Football 20 (Sept. 11, 2015)
This game, more than any other, fulfilled Howard Schnellenberger’s vision of what football at FAU could become.
The Miami Hurricanes, the team Schnellenberger led to a nation title, became the first Power 5 team to play on FAU’s campus, selling out Howard Schnellenberger Field for the first time in school history.
FAU’s campus rocked to life in the hours leading up to the game, For the first time, an FAU game felt like a truly big time college football event.
And the Owls took the field ready to play.
Miami received the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards on 12 plays, but FAU responded with a Greg Joseph field goal on its first possession.
The Hurricanes led 14-3 and had knocked FAU QB Quez Johnson out of the game late in the first quarter when, on a third-and-goal from the Miami 4, tight end Nate Terry faked a slip and fell to the ground as new quarterback Jason Driskel rolled right. The misdirection worked. Terry jumped up and ran to the left side of the end zone, where Driskel found him all alone for the Owls’ first TD.
Miami led FAU 20-17 at the half, then FAU tied the game at 20 early in the third quarter on a 32-yard Joseph boot.
The Hurricanes pulled away after that. Driskel completed 17 of 30 passes on the night for 155 yards and that lone touchdown to Terry. Running back Jay Warren enjoyed a career night, rushing for 132 yards and a score on only 11 carries. Playing against his hometown school, former Coral Gables High School star Buddy Howell rushed for 78 yards on 13 carries. Jake Stoshak and Freedom Whitfield both recorded 10 tackles to lead the Owls.
But FAU committed five turnovers on the night, leading to a final score that wasn’t indicative of the game’s competitive nature.
And let’s not forget the lightning delay. Officials halted play with a little more than 6 minutes remaining in the first quarter because of the weather, forcing teams and fans to find other ways to amuse themselves for the next 67 minutes. For many – especially those who left during the delay – that’s the enduring memory. It shouldn’t be, though.
FAU vs. Miami at Howard Schnellenberger Field in Boca Raton offered served as a promise fulfilled both on and off the field.
The Case For No. 1 – Ken LaVicka, FAU Play-by-Play Broadcaster
You know all of those murals around FAU Stadium showing fans packing into every corner of FAU Stadium? The reason those exist is the reason that FAU’s gridiron showdown with Miami on Friday, September 11th, 2015 should be the top moment on this list.
It wasn’t necessarily something that ever felt like a reality. Mighty Miami, the program with five national championships, the biggest brother of South Florida college football, maybe even all of college football, coming to Boca to play a 14-year old program in their four-year-old digs. But it happened, and despite pesky late summer weather and long traffic lines, it is a night that no FAU fan will ever forget.
The game was close in the first half, with a capacity crowd watching FAU hang with the Canes. The game eventually slipped away, but that wasn’t the point. Tiny FAU had become prominent enough to host one of college football’s iconic programs. It was surreal to see the trademark white “U” helmets march onto the turf in Boca. It truly felt, at that moment, even without coming off of a winning season or without one on the horizon, that FAU had arrived.
Maybe the most important aspect of the night, however, was that Howard Schnellenberger’s legacy had come full circle. On that evening off of Glades Road, Miami, the program Schnellenberger revived from the dead, played at Florida Atlantic, the program that Schnellenberger birthed, in the sparkling football venue that only Schnellenberger truly believed could ever exist on FAU’s campus. And that was perfect.
Previous FAU Top 25 Game Rankings
FAU’s Best Games Ever (25-21)
FAU’s Best Games Ever (20-16)
FAU’s Best Games Ever (15-11)
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No. 10 – Carolina Comeback
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No. 9 – Boca Bowl Blowout
FAU’s Best Game Ever: No. 8 – Burrow Bash
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No. 7 – The Big, Easy Win
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No 6 – Dancing Days
FAU’s Best Games Ever: No. 5 – Bama Breakthrough