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.