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Boca Raton Bowl Preview: SMU vs Florida Atlantic

Florida Atlantic begins the post-Lane Kiffin era when it hosts the SMU Mustangs in the Boca Raton Bowl. SMU has struggled to beat quality opponents on the road for years, losing 21 of its last 22 games when visiting teams with winning records.

Boca Raton Bowl Matchup Information
  • Spread: SMU -3.5
  • Total: 55
  • Date/Time: December 21, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Boca Raton, Florida
  • Stadium: FAU Stadium
  • TV Coverage: ABC/ESPN App
  • SMU vs Florida Atlantic Matchup Report & Updated Odds

Boca Raton Bowl Odds Analysis

It’s not often you find the Owls as an underdog at home. In fact, this is just the second time in FAU’s last 20 home games that the Owls have been catching points. FAU is 0-6 SU and ATS in its last six as a home dog.

SMU News & Notes

The Mustangs already got some great news this month when wide receiver Reggie Roberson Jr. announced that he’d return to SMU for his senior year, rather than enter the NFL draft. However, Roberson likely won’t be available for SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl as he continues to recover from a foot injury that cost him the final four games of the Mustangs’ season.

Roberson racked up 43 catches, six touchdowns and 803 yards in his first seven-plus games, but the SMU offense has done just fine without him since — finishing the year with the ninth-most yards and 12th-most passing yards in college football. Quarterback Shane Buechele’s sparkling resume includes a 63.2 percent completion rate, 3,626 yards and 33 touchdowns to just nine interceptions.

That powerful attack, combined with a 102nd-ranked defense, helped the Mustangs go 9-3 to the OVER this year. Oddsmakers may have caught on, however, as SMU has gone UNDER in two of its last three. The UNDER is also 5-0 in the Mustangs’ last five bowl games.

Florida Atlantic News & Notes

First-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer will be running the FAU sideline in this game after head coach Lane Kiffin stepped down earlier this month to accept the head job at Ole Miss. Although Spencer has no prior head coaching experience at the FBS level, numerous players have already advocated for him to become the program’s next head coach.

FAU ranks 81st in the nation against the pass, but the Owls did set a program record with 21 interceptions this season. Florida Atlantic has also gone UNDER in seven of its last nine games at home, allowing 17 points or less in five of those contests.

This is the second time in three years that FAU is playing a bowl game in its home stadium. Florida Atlantic hammered Akron 50-3 in the 2017 Boca Raton Bowl, outgaining the Zips 582-146 in yards. The FAU offense looks poised for a repeat performance after lighting up the scoreboard for 123 points in its last three contests, including a 49-6 rout of UAB in the Conference USA championship game.

Betting Pick: Florida Atlantic +3.5

I like the Owls to play hard for their interim coach and prove their success this season was about more than just Kiffin.

Shark Bites
  • SMU is 4-1 SU in its last 5 road games.
  • FAU ranks 16th in the NCAA in points scored per game.
  • The OVER has hit in 9 of SMU’s 12 games this season.