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Devin Singletary sets C-USA touchdown record as FAU rolls in Boca Raton Bowl

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We understand why the respective conferences have their reasons for not launching a Group of 5 playoff, but it sure would have been nice to see Florida Atlantic play UCF, Toledo, Troy or Boise State on Tuesday night. Because the 7-win champions of the MAC East were no match for Lane Kiffin‘s Owls, as Florida Atlantic cruised to a 50-3 win over Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Quarterback Jason Driskel and running back Devin Singletary starred for the 11-3 Owls, who closed the year on a 10-game winning streak that saw Florida Atlantic win by an average score of 46-21. Driskel completed 17-of-23 passes for 220 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing 13 times for 67 yards and two more scores. Singletary broke the Conference USA single-season rushing touchdown record — a mark held by former Central Florida running back and now Singletary’s position coach, Kevin Smith — with his first rushing touchdown and racked up 26 carries for 124 yards and three touchdowns.

Singletary, a sophomore, finished the season with 299 carries for 1,920 yards (6.42 a carry) for 32 touchdowns, five shy of tying Barry Sanders‘s FBS record.

After both teams missed field goals to open the game, Florida Atlantic opened the scoring with a 13-play, 79-yard drive that culminated in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Driskel to Willie Wright, putting FAU up 7-0 with 1:08 to play in the first quarter.

Akron answered with a 12-play march that killed more than five minutes but ended at the FAU 2-yard line. Rather than go for a fourth-and-goal from the FAU 2-yard line, Terry Bowden opted for a 19-yard Nick Gasser field goal.

Florida Atlantic responded with another long drive, this time consuming five and a half minutes over 14 plays before scoring on a 3-yard Driskel run with 5:38 left in the first half. The Owls forced a punt on Akron’s next possession, and on the first play of FAU’s next touch Driskel hit Kamrin Solomon for a 63-yard connection. Devin Singletary finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left before halftime, giving him 30 on the season — which set the Conference USA single-season record, breaking a tie with former Central Florida running back and current Florida Atlantic running backs coach Kevin Smith — to push the score at 21-3 at halftime.

Florida Atlantic forced a turnover on downs to open the second half, then notched Singletary’s second touchdown of the night, a 2-yard rush. That pattern continued for the rest of the night. Akron did not mount a serious threat, while Driskel and Wright added another touchdown connection (plus a Wright 2-point conversion) to push the lead to 36-3 to close the third quarter, Driskel rushed for a second score to open the fourth quarter, and Singletary closed his season with a 26-yard score to put Florida Atlantic at the half-a-hundred mark with 10:47 still to play.

As a team, Florida Atlantic racked up 577 yards of total offense with 29 first downs, while Akron (7-7) gained 146 yards of total offense with 11 first downs. Kato Nelson completed 9-of-15 passes for 80 yards while Manny Morgan led the Zips with 41 yards on 17 carries.

Florida Atlantic in control at Boca Raton Bowl

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Florida Atlantic hasn’t exactly picked up where it left off in throttling North Texas for the Conference USA championship two and a half weeks ago, but the Owls are in firm control in front of their home crowd halfway through the Boca Raton Bowl.

After both teams missed field goals to open the game, Florida Atlantic opened the scoring with a 13-play, 79-yard drive that culminated in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jason Driskel to Willie Wright, putting FAU up 7-0 with 1:08 to play in the first quarter.

Akron answered with a 12-play march that killed more than five minutes but ended at the FAU 2-yard line. Rather than go for a fourth-and-goal from the FAU 2-yard line, Terry Bowden opted for a 19-yard Nick Gasser field goal.

Florida Atlantic responded with another long drive, this time consuming five and a half minutes over 14 plays before scoring on a 3-yard Driskel run with 5:38 left in the first half. The Owls forced a punt on Akron’s next possession, and on the first play of FAU’s next touch Driskel hit Kamrin Solomon for a 63-yard connection. Devin Singletary finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left before halftime, giving him 30 on the season — which set the Conference USA single-season record, breaking a tie with former Central Florida running back and current Florida Atlantic running backs coach Kevin Smith — and gave FAU a 21-3 lead at the break. 

Driskel closed the half hitting 12-of-13 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown, and Singletary led all runners with 13 carries for 37 yards. FAU out-gained the Zips 250-120.

Akron will receive to open the second half.

Lane Train rolls into Title Town as FAU claims first Conference USA crown

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Really, this was the only way for the regular season to end for Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic.

In his first season as FAU’s head coach, the former Alabama offensive coordinator made headlines from coast-to-coast seemingly on a daily basis for his tweeting habits off the field.  Somewhat lost amidst the non-football social media hoopla was the team’s success on the field, with the 9-3 Owls riding an eight-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s Conference USA championship.

Exiting it, that streak has now reached nine in a row as FAU (10-3) jumped out to a huge lead on North Texas (9-4) then “held on” for a 41-17 win.  The game marked the first-ever Conference USA title game appearance for both football programs and, thus, the Owls first-ever league title.

The Mean Green had been looking to exact a measure of revenge as the Owls thumped them 69-31 in Week 8.  That game was also played on FAU’s home turf.

With Win No. 10, FAU set the school’s single-season victory mark, breaking the standard of nine set by the legendary Howard Schnellenberger‘s first team back in 2004.  Not only that, but the Owls now have one more win this season under Kiffin than they had in the last three years combined.

And, as has been the case throughout 2017, FAU’s offense played a pivotal role in the success.

The Owls entered Week 14 10th nationally in scoring (39.8 points per game) and 16th in total offense (480.2 yards per game).  Saturday afternoon in Boca Raton, they had 27 points and 382 yards… in the first half alone.  The Mean Green defense stiffened in the second half, however, as the Owls finished the game with 486 yards of offense.

FAU led 27-0 at halftime and 34-0 in the middle of the third quarter before UNT mounted what turned out to be an incomplete mini-comeback.

With three rushing touchdowns on the day, including one late in the fourth quarter that officially snuffed out UNT’s come-from-behind hopes, Devin Singletary now has 29 rushing touchdowns on the season.  That ties the Conference USA record set by Central Florida’s Kevin Smith in 2007.  Smith is now the running backs coach at… FAU.

Those 29 touchdowns, incidentally, re also tied for fifth-most in FBS history.

Singletary wasn’t the only offensive star of the game as wide receiver Kalib Woods caught six passes for 208 yards and a touchdown.

It wasn’t a perfect day for the Owls, however, as John Franklin III had a long touchdown run taken away after he Deshaun Jacksoned the moment.

FAU will allow star WR with felony charges pending to return, play

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I’m going to go ahead and guess that some will have some fun with and/or angst over Lane Kiffin for the decision made by his current employer.

In mid-June, Kalib Woods was arrested on two counts of felony battery. The charges stemmed from a January party in which it’s alleged that the Florida Atlantic wide receiver broke the jaw of one man and caused internal bleeding in another.

Because of the charges, Woods was suspended for the Owls’ first six games of the season. Despite the fact that the felony charges are still pending — his next court appearance is Jan. 10 — his lawyer has confirmed to OwlAccess.com that his client will be allowed to play in this Saturday’s Homecoming Game against North Texas.

The decision was made during a university disciplinary hearing Monday.

“I applaud the university or doing the right thing despite the fact that criminal charges are still pending,” Woods’ attorney, Michael Gottlieb, told the website.

Initially barred from campus after the arrest, the school ultimately reversed course, which allowed Woods to attend classes and practice with the team. The website also reports that Woods was removed from scholarship and is now a member of the team as a walk-on.

Last season, Woods was easily the Owls’ top threat in the passing game as he led the team with 68 receptions for 934 yards. For his career, the redshirt senior’s 111 catches have produced 1,487 yards and six touchdowns.

‘Bama offers clarification on Maurice Smith transfer imbroglio

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Alabama defensive back Maurice Smith would like to transfer to Georgia. His mother said Alabama is blocking the transfer. Smith’s desire to leave the Tide has come at a personal cost to him.

In a push back against arcane transfer rules — there is no explanation for why Kirby Smart can leave Alabama for Georgia with no penalty while Smith can’t except for “we’ve always done it that way” — it has been pointed out Alabama allowed wide receiver Chris Black was allowed to transfer to Missouri without a crimson blockade.

Alabama offered this explanation on Thursday:

Still, Alabama could allow Smith to transfer to Georgia if it wanted. It just doesn’t.

Of course, Smart and Georgia have no leg to stand on. Earlier this off-season, the exact same scenario played itself out in Athens, except it was an even less inconvenient scenario for the Bulldogs.

Georgia running back A.J. Turman wanted to rejoin Mark Richt at Miami. Smart didn’t let him. Turman ended up at Florida Atlantic, and what went around finally came around.