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2019 Boca Raton Bowl - Florida Atlantic Owls vs SMU Mustangs
Beautiful Boca Raton is hosting a bowl game for the sixth straight year. The Florida Atlantic Owls will be home for the holidays as they have been chosen to take part in the Boca Raton Bowl for the second time in three years. Florida Atlantic blasted Akron here two years ago, and the Owls are looking for a similar result this time too. However, they are a home underdog according to the college football betting odds as Lane Kiffin has left to coach Ole Miss. With Kiffin gone, the SMU Mustangs are hoping to win their first bowl game since beating Fresno State in the 2012 Hawaii Bowl.
2019 Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl at a Glance
Date: Saturday, December 21, 2019
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Venue: FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL
Matchup: Florida Atlantic Owls vs SMU Mustangs
Odds: SMU -3.5, total 70.5
Boca Raton Bowl Preview
Willie Taggart was named the new head coach of Florida Atlantic earlier in the week, but he will not coach the bowl game. Glenn Spencer will be in charge of the Owls for this game, and the defensive coordinator has overseen a fantastic turnaround in 2019.
Florida Atlantic led the nation in turnovers forced and turnover margin this season. The Owls forced 31 turnovers in 2019 (up from 12 in 2018), and their +20 turnover margin helped them go 10-3 and rout UAB in the Conference USA Championship Game in early December.
Even without Devin Singletary, this offense was superb under Kiffin’s watch. Chris Robison completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 3,396 yards with 26 touchdowns and six interceptions, and he consistently found one of the most underrated tight ends in the country in Harrison Bryant. Bryant led the Owls with 65 receptions for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns, while Deangelo Antoine was FAU’s leading receiver.
The run game wasn’t as productive without Singletary and Kerrith Whyte, but FAU still averaged 4.2 YPC as a team. Freshman Malcolm Davidson showed the speed to be a home run hitter with 102 carries for 711 yards, and he will have the chance to run wild against an SMU defense that has had some issues.
The Mustangs got off to their best start in school history this season. SMU won its first eight games and defeated TCU for the Iron Skillet before finally losing to eventual AAC Champion Memphis. A loss to Navy took SMU out of contention for the conference championship, but it was still a wildly successful year for the program as the Mustangs went 10-2 for the first time since receiving the death penalty.
Sonny Dykes is back at home in Texas, and this offense was one of the best in the country. SMU won most of its games in shootouts, and the offense constantly rose to the occasion with the pressure on.
Shane Buechele completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 3,626 yards with 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions this year, and he had the best receiving tandem outside the Power Five in James Proche and Reggie Roberson Jr.
Proche was one of the nation’s receiving leaders, catching 102 passes for 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns. Roberson was one of the scariest deep threats in the country, catching 43 passes for 803 yards and six touchdowns, but a foot injury kept him out the last four games of the regular season and has him doubtful to play in the Boca Raton Bowl.
Not to be outdone, tight end Kylen Granson is an excellent red zone threat with 36 catches for 628 yards and nine touchdowns this season, and Xavier Jones ran for 1,249 yards and 21 touchdowns in this quick strike offense.
Boca Raton Bowl Format
The Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl was founded in 2014 and is played at FAU Football Stadium, home of the Florida Atlantic University Owls. The Cheribundi beverage company has been its sponsor since 2017.
Boca Raton Bowl Prediction
The scoreboard operator should be busy as this is expected to be one of the highest scoring games of bowl season. FAU might not be as prolific with the loss of Kiffin, but these players know the system and he didn’t take his entire offensive staff with him to Oxford.
SMU and Florida Atlantic are dead even in terms of overall SP+ Ratings, but Florida Atlantic’s turnover luck is bound to run out. Dykes’ offenses have played well in prior bowl games, and the Mustangs should move the ball with relative ease against the Owls here.
Those in attendance are just hoping for a close game. All five previous Boca Raton Bowls have been blowouts with four of the five games being decided by 20 points or more. The closest margin of victory to date is 15 points.
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl Game Results
UAB is the most recent first-time winner, as it shot ahead early and cruised to the 37-13 win over Northern Illinois in 2018. It was the second career Boca Raton Bowl appearance for NIU but it is still winless.
Playing in its third bowl game and first since 2008, FAU scored the game’s final 43 points to cruise to a 50-3 victory in 2017. The Owls outgained the Zips 582-146 with Devin Singletary rushing for 124 yards and three scores. FAU quarterback Jason Driskel tossed a pair of touchdown passes to earn offensive MVP.
Marshall gave the Boca Raton Bowl an illustrious beginning, putting up more than 50 points in a 52-23 thrashing of Northern Illinois in 2014. NIU was within 31-20 in the third quarter of the contest but Angelo Jean-Louis had an 11-yard touchdown catch and Deon-Tay McManus added a 27-yard touchdown reception to help Marshall pull away. Thundering Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato was named MVP. Marshall was an 8.5-point favorite and easily covered.
In 2015, Toledo used a big fourth quarter to pull away from Temple for the 32-17 victory. The Rockets led 12-9 heading into the final frame but scored three touchdowns in a span of just over 10 minutes. The Offensive MVP of the game was Philip Ely. The defensive MVP was linebacker Ju’Wuan Woodley. Temple was actually favored by a point in the contest so Toledo pulled off a nice upset.
The offensive explosion returned in 2016 with Western Kentucky steamrolling Memphis, 51-31. WKU had 41 points midway through the third quarter and cruised to the win. WKU’s Anthony Wales was named offensive MVP while teammate Keith Brown took home defensive MVP honors. WKU covered the spread as a 4-point favorite.
Most All-Time Wins at Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
Five games and five different winners leave the Boca Raton Bowl in search of its first two-time champion. FAU is the ideal C-USA representative with the game being played on the school’s campus, and the improvement of the program under Lane Kiffin could set up many more appearances.
The game is still in its infancy, however, and there will be plenty to determine in the coming years. While other locations can have adverse weather conditions, cold weather won’t ever be an issue in this venue, and teams will be encouraged to keep airing it out and lighting up the scoreboard, as we’ve already seen.
Attendance for these games has hovered between 24,000-29,000 spectators, and good matchups moving forward could improve that. The Boca Raton Bowl has seen some good games already and it hopes to find more of the same in 2018 and beyond.
2019-20 College Bowls Betting Schedule
||LOCATION / TIME
|College Football Playoff
||Atlanta, GA / 4 PM
||No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
||Glendale, AZ / 8 PM
||No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson
||CFP National Championship
||New Orleans, LA / 8 PM
|Selection Committee Bowl Games
||Arlington, TX / Noon
||No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 17 Memphis
||Miami Gardens, FL / 8 PM
||No. 9 Florida vs. No. 24 Virginia
||Pasadena, CA / 5 PM
||No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
||New Orleans, LA / 8:45 PM
||No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor
|Other Bowl Games
||Nassau, Bahamas / 2 PM
||Buffalo vs. Charlotte
||Frisco, TX / 7:30 PM
||Kent State vs. Utah State
||Atlanta, GA / 12:00 PM
||Alcorn State vs. North Carolina A&T
||New Mexico Bowl
||Albuquerque, NM / 2 PM
||Central Michigan vs. San Diego State
||Orlando, FL / 2:30 PM
||Liberty vs. Georgia Southern
||Boca Raton Bowl
||Boca Raton, FL / 3:30 PM
||FAU vs. SMU
||Montgomery, AL / 5:30 PM
||Arkansas State vs. Florida International
||Las Vegas Bowl
||Las Vegas, NV / 7:30 PM
||No. 19 Boise State vs. Washington
||New Orleans Bowl
||New Orleans, LA / 9 PM
||No. 20 Appalachian State vs. UAB
||Tampa, FL / 2:30 PM
||Marshall vs. UCF
||Honolulu, HI / 8 PM
||BYU vs. Hawai'i
||Shreveport, LA / 4 PM
||Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (Fla.)
||Quick Lane Bowl
||Detroit, MI / 8 PM
||Eastern Michigan vs. Pittsburgh
||Annapolis, MD / Noon
||North Carolina vs. Temple
||The Bronx, NY / 3:20 PM
||Michigan State vs. Wake Forest
||Houston, TX / 6:45 PM
||No. 25 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
||San Diego, CA / TBA
||No. 16 Iowa vs. No. 22 Southern California
||Phoenix, AZ / 10:15 PM
||Air Force vs. Washington State
||Camping World Bowl
||Orlando, FL / Noon
||No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State
||First Responder Bowl
||University Park, TX / 12:30 PM
||Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan
||Music City Bowl
||Nashville, TN / 4 PM
||Louisville vs. Mississippi State
||Santa Clara, CA / TBA
||California vs. Illinois
||Charlotte, NC / Noon
||Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech
||El Paso, TX / 2 PM
||Arizona State vs. Florida State
||Tucson, AZ / 4:30 PM
||Georgia State vs. Wyoming
||San Antonio, TX / 7:30 PM
||No. 11 Utah vs. Texas
||Mephis, TN / 3:45 PM
||Kansas State vs. Navy
||Tampa, FL / 1 PM
||No. 12 Auburn vs. No. 18 Minnesota
||Orlando, FL / 1 PM
||No. 13 Alabama vs. No. 14 Michigan
||Birmingham, AL / 3 PM
||No. 21 Cincinnati vs. Boston College
||Jacksonville, FL / 7 PM
||Indiana vs. Tennessee
||Idaho Potato Bowl
||Boise, ID / 3:30 PM
||Nevada vs. Ohio
||Armed Forces Bowl
||Fort Worth, TX / 11:30 AM
||Southern Miss vs. Tulane
||Mobile, AL / 7:30 PM
||Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Miami (Ohio)
2019 NCAA Football Schedule
NCAA Football Teams
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