Marshall knocked off Western Kentucky, the East Division’s lone undefeated team, 26-23 by kicking a 53-yard field goal as time expired. A Hilltoppers’ victory would have given FAU back control of its own destiny. Even without that control the Owls still have clear paths to advancing to the Conference USA title game.
FAU can potentially knock WKU out of the title chase with a win when the two teams meet next weekend in Bowling Green, Ky.
Should that happen, FAU and Marshall would be the lone one-loss teams in C-USA’s East. By virtue of the Thundering Herd’s 36-31 victory over the Owls eight days ago, Marshall holds the head-to-head tie breaker over FAU.
Marshall, however, still has to face Louisiana Tech, arguably C-USA’s best team, on Nov. 15. FAU does not have the Bulldogs on its schedule.
Outside of La. Tech, the remainder of Marshall’s schedule isn’t daunting. Rice, Charlotte and FIU have combined to win only seven games this season. None has a record above .500 in conference play.
FAU’s schedule is significantly tougher. After Western Kentucky, the Owls still have the Shula Bowl rivalry game against FIU and Southern Miss, likely the second-best team in the West Division, at home. FAU also makes a Nov. 23 trip to Texas-San Antonio.
Even if the Owls fail to reach the C-USA title game, they are creeping closer to bowl eligibility. By defeating Old Dominion 41-3 on Saturday FAU matched its win total from last season with five. One more victory makes the Owls bowl eligible. Two more ensures a postseason date.
GameBrowser: FAU (5-3, 3-1) 41, ODU (1-7, 0-4) 3
After Chris Robison forced an interception that led to ODU’s only points, the redshirt sophomore quarterback led the Owls right back down the field, ultimately connecting with Harrison Bryant for a 14-yard touchdown that reasserted the Owls’ dominance in the game.
- There’s been plenty of buzz surrounding tight end Harrison Bryant’s NFL future – and rightly so – but it’s time to start giving fellow tight end John Raine his props. The senior caught his fifth touchdown of the season and demonstrated surprising strength with a strong stiff arm following a first-half catch. Raine caught three passes for 40 yards on Saturday and has the look of an NFL H-back.
- Maligned following its poor tackling performance in the loss to Marshall, FAU responded with a solid effort against ODU. The Owls didn’t allow a touchdown on the afternoon and only surrendered one play of more than 20 yards. And the six sacks? A feast.
- FAU’s defensive line continues to suffer injuries. With reserve Marcel Southall already out, defensive tackles Will Davis and Ray Ellis both left the field – they later returned – as did Damian Horton. In their absences, walk-on Collin Dell made the most of his opportunity, recording two tackles, one of which was a sack, and deflecting a pass ultimately intercepted by Caliph Brice.
- The Owls’ offense played better, but their offensive line play still remains questionable. FAU managed only 32 rushing yards in the first half, and that’s without any sacks diminishing the net total. Frequent missed assignments left little room for runs and quarterbacks still experienced too much pressure in the pocket.
- With the game long-since decided, Willie Wright took a jet sweep around right end for a 21-yard touchdown, the junior slot receiver’s first touchdown since scoring twice against Air Force in the second week of the 2018 season. Selected to the 2017 All-Confenence USA Freshman team, Wright’s admitted to struggling with his confidence this season, causing him to lose his starting spot to Deangelo Antoine. Maybe this game with get him going. The Owls desperately need his explosiveness.
3 – Wins in three tries for FAU over Old Dominion in Norwalk, Vir.
4 – First half sacks for the Owls, including two by DE Leighton McCarthy.
6 – Passing yards for Trent Wessel. The redshirt junior QB was perfect on his first, and only, career passing attempt.
7 – Tackles, including one sack, for LB Rashad Smith to lead the Owls.
74– First-half receiving yards for Harrison Bryant.
204 – Total yards of offense for ODU on the afternoon.
240 – Total yards of offense for FAU in the first half alone.