By Zach Walker
SMU Mustangs vs Florida Atlantic Owls
Saturday – December 21 – 2:30 p.m.
FAU Football Stadium – Boca Raton, FL
Records Before the Game
SMU Mustangs (10-2)
Florida Atlantic Owls (10-3)
How did these teams get to this bowl game?
What a fantastic season it has been for the SMU Mustangs. They became ‘Transfer U’ and really ran with the influx of incoming talent and blew the expectations for the 2019 season well beyond the scope of what any person would have guessed in early August. The Mustangs went to TCU for their fourth game on the season looking for a test of what they could be, and came out firing and left Fort Worth with the victory and a cloud of accomplishment, they ended their winning streak in a game at Memphis which was a fireworks display, and the Mustangs could have possibly had the outcome differ had they had Reggie Roberson play in the game.
The FAU Owls have been led by Lane Kiffin for the last three seasons, mopping up the remaining three star talents and transfer players from south Florida to help build a very solid foundation for the incoming Willie Taggart, and Kiffin’s Owls won two Conference-USA championships in three seasons, including an absolute WAXING of UAB in the C-USA championship game 49-6. Kiffin laid out a difficult non-conference schedule which started with an on the road opener at Ohio State and though they lost, they kept it pretty respectable, which against Ohio State is a real deal benchmark. They stumbled the following week against UCF, but then lost only once more (Marshall by 5) before finishing with a pre bowl game ten win season.
SMU Mustangs – The Mustangs are exceptionally dangerous. Shane Buechele brought an unquestionable air of quality and leadership to the Hilltop, but more importantly he brought his game to the field and really solidified the Mustangs as a real somebody to talk about nationally. He has a great group pass catchers. James Proche could very easily be a future Sunday player, and tight end Kylen Granson has been an absolute menace in the redzone and a major threat on third downs. The tandem backs of Xavier Jones and Ke’Mon Freeman was great and Xavier Jones has a magnetic knack for finding the endzone. The Mustangs’ defense has a true gift of getting after quarterbacks. They have a lot of guys that can really get after signal callers. Delontae Scott, Pono Davis, Turner Coxe, Demerick Gary, Gary Wiley, Chris Biggurs, and Zach Abercrumbia all add SO much heat and the jack-of-all-trades Patrick Nelson (PLEASE Cowboys go get this kid) can lock it down and punish quarterbacks in crucial situations.
Florida Atlantic Owls – The Owls have a monster on their offense, Harrison Bryant, an absolute STUD of a tight end and someone who will be on an NFL roster come next season. Funny enough, the Owls’ quarterback Chris Robison is from Mesquite, which is pretty cool, and he’s got a real excellent quarterback rating and performances versus non-conference opponents with a ten touchdowns to a single interception this season. The Owls are led on defense by an undersized linebacker Akileis Leroy, but his sub-six foot size does not hinder his play, as he leads the team in tackles and sacks (7.5), he’s also got three interceptions. That is not the lead for the Owls. Meiko Dotson has nine interceptions. Again, he has nine interceptions for the 2019 season, why continue to throw his way? Incredible.
SMU – 45
FAU – 40
I expect this game to be very fun to watch.