“We want no part of Thursday night road games, but we don’t have a choice,” Kiffin said.
Prior to the start of the season Conference USA picked this week’s FAU vs. North Texas game to fill their slot on CBS Sports Network likely because it appeared to be the best conference game of the week.
The battle pits the two opponents from last year’s C-USA championship game in a nationally televised battle that kicks off at 9:30 p.m.
It’s an opportunity for FAU to impress a national audience – well, at least those fans willing to splurge for with deep cable television packages – but Kiffin doesn’t think it’s a good for the school.
“A Thursday game is always an obstacle for the road team – especially when you put the time at 9:30 p.m. and we’re supposed to get back here at 6 a.m., I think, on Friday – on a school day,” Kiffin said. “So I don’t know how this is in the best interest of the student athlete at all.”
Kiffin noted that Power 5 conference are getting away from playing on Thursday nights because the home team has such an advantage.
He noted, in particular, Clemson’s short-week loss last season on a Friday night at Syracuse, a team that finished the season with a 4-8 record as a reason to avoid non-Saturday games in general. The loss nearly knocked the Tigers out of playoff consideration.
Not having to travel for a Thursday game offers a larger-than-normal advantage for the home team.
“There’s always been an issue on Thursday, people not wanting to play Thursday road games,” Kiffin said. “Just look at the numbers over the years.”
Potentially working in FAU’s favor is that the Owls aren’t starting from scratch when scouting North Texas (7-3, 3-3). The teams met twice last season, with the Owls winning both games by a combined score of 110-48.
“Now we did play these guys twice last year so that helps a little bit,” Kiffin said. “I mean it helps both sides, not like it just helps us. So there’s some familiarity there.”
For FAU (5-5, 3-3), the North Texas game is the third and final non-Saturday regular season game of the year. FAU lost the previous two, both Friday affairs, to Central Florida and Louisiana Tech. The Owls enter Thursday night one victory away from bowl eligibility with only two games remaining.
Playing on Thursday leaves FAU with only one full day of practice in preparation for Thursday’s game. That will be Monday, when the Owls take the field in the afternoon.
“(Monday) is basically the only practice day,” Kiffin said. “Try to do everything, which is difficult because you’ve got to get it all right.”
Tuesday is a walk-though day for FAU and the Owls travel on Wednesday.
Complicating matters for the Owls is the forecast for the Dallas area, which calls for temperatures plummeting to near freezing overnight. FAU won its most recent cold weather game, defeating Western Kentucky last season in a game where the temperature was 44 degrees at kickoff.
Practicing in Boca Raton, Kiffin says there’s no helpful way to prepare for the cold weather.
“Nothing, unless you have a way to make it cold here,” Kiffin said. “No, there’s nothing you can do.”