Florida Atlantic (1-5) at South Alabama (1-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ladd Peebles Stadium (40,646) -- Mobile, Alabama.
Television: None. Home Record: FAU 1-1, South Alabama 1-2. Away Record: FAU
0-4, South Alabama 0-3. Neutral Record: FAU 0-0, South Alabama 0-0. Conference
Record: FAU 0-3, South Alabama 0-2. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A pair of struggling Sun Belt Conference teams try to turn their
seasons around on Saturday afternoon when the South Alabama Jaguars play host
to the Florida Atlantic Owls.
After winning its season opener against FCS foe Wagner (7-3), FAU has dropped
five straight games, with all but one of those losses coming by 14 or more
points. Dating back to 2010, the Owls have lost 19 of their last 20 games
against FBS opponents, with their only win in that stretch coming at home
versus UAB, 38-35, on Nov. 26, 2011.
South Alabama's transition to the Sun Belt has been a rocky one to say the
least. Like FAU, the Jaguars' only win came against an FCS team (9-3 over
Nicholls State), but unlike the Owls they have played a handful of close
games, including one-possession losses to Texas-San Antonio (33-31) and
Arkansas State (36-29).
With this being South Alabama's first season as a member of the Sun Belt,
Saturday's clash marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the
Not surprisingly, FAU has one of the worst offenses in the nation, ranking
118th in total yards (286.5 ypg) and 119th in scoring (13.2 ppg), ranking only
above Tulane in the latter category in the FBS.
Graham Wilbert has started five of six games under center and while he boasts
a respectable completion percentage (.652), he has not recorded many big
passing plays, averaging less than 168 yards per game while tossing six
touchdowns against three interceptions. He has had difficulty staying upright
as well, taking 18 sacks on the season, including five last week against ULM.
William Dukes has emerged as the Owls' top receiving threat with 23 catches
for 320 yards, but he has yet to find the end zone. Byron Hankerson (15
catches, 209 yards) has caught two of Wilbert's six touchdowns.
Damian Fortner is the team's leading rushing with just 255 yards and two
touchdowns on 70 carries. As a team, the Owls average just 3.2 yards per carry
behind a poor offensive line.
With an offense that strikes little fear in its opponents, the defense (30.8
ppg) oftentimes suffers from being left with short fields or having to return
too quickly after three-and-outs by the offense.
David Hinds leads the team with 50 tackles and also has two forced fumbles.
FAU has only recorded five sacks and four interceptions through six games.
South Alabama's offense has been better than FAU's but not by much, scoring
13.4 ppg on 300 ypg.
C.J. Bennett started the first five games at quarterback but was largely
ineffective, completing less than 55 percent of his passes for 543 yards,
three touchdowns, and four interceptions. Ross Metheny got his first start of
the season against Arkansas State last week and played well, going 24-of-38
for 241 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, and he is expected to
be the starter moving forward.
The Jaguars have a glaring lack of playmakers at the skill positions. Demtetre
Baker is the lead back, carrying the ball 67 times for 294 yards and a
touchdown. Jereme Jones leads the receiving corps with a pair of touchdown
catches, but no player has more than 160 yards receiving.
Considering the transition USA has made coming from the FCS to the FBS, the
defense has played very well in the early going, allowing 25.6 ppg on 350.2
Jake Johnson has recorded 51 tackles and has seven of the team's 40 tackles
for loss. Alex Page has gotten good pressure on the quarterback with four
sacks, and Tyrell Pearson has two interceptions and three pass break ups.
With two teams playing this poorly, it's bound to be an ugly game. And with
next to no big-time playmakers on either sideline, defense and ball control
will surely be the biggest concerns for both squads. With the home field
advantage and the stronger defensive unit, USA gets the edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Alabama 16, Florida Atlantic 10
10/17 10:43:08 ET