Florida Atlantic Are Heavy Favorites Against UTEP
Don't let the record fool you. Despite a 4-3 mark on the season, Florida Atlantic University is 11-point favorites for tomorrow's big clash against UTEP. The Owls are coming off of an impressive 38-9 win at Charlotte, and their 2-1 mark is tops in Conference USA's Eastern Division. The last time they played at home, FAU annihilated in state rivals FIU 58-21. Meanwhile, they have been licking their chops to play the Miners, who are already bowl eligible at 6-1 and coming off of a bye week.
Willie Taggart is in his second season as head coach of the Owls after serving as head coach of Florida State University. Prior to that, he was head coach at Oregon and South Florida. In a short amount of time, he has brought a disciplined style of football to Boca Raton, with tough defense led by Mike Stoops. FAU ranks number one in the country in the red zone defense, 6th nationally in third down conversion percentage, 9th in team passing efficiency defense, and 15th in net punting.
Offensively, they score nearly 31 points per game and are led by former Miami quarterback N'Kosi Perry. The senior is completing 62% of his passes for 1,696 yards, 14 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. He has also rushed for four more scores this season. Perry has plenty of receivers to work with, including freshman LaJohntay Wester (33-398-3), sophomore Je'Quan Burton (17-341-2), and junior Brandon Robinson (20-278-2). Their running game is led by 5'5 sophomore Johnny Ford (64-403-3) and junior Malcolm Davidson (53-240-1).
Defensively, FAU allows just 21 points and 372 total yards per game. Senior linebacker Caliph Brice leads the team with 53 tackles, while senior safety Jordan Helm is second on the team with 50 stops. Sophomore defensive end Jaylen Joyner leads the Owls with three sacks so far, half of the total he had in 2020. Sophomore safety Teja Young, and senior cornerbacks Zyon Gilbert and Korel Smith each have a pair of interceptions on the season. One of the game's best matchups will be the experienced corners lining up against UTEP's Jacob Cowing and Justin Garrett.
When you look at FAU on paper, they have plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Combine that with UTEP's all-time record in the Eastern Time Zone of 0-25-1 and you can understand why the Miners are double-digit underdogs. 600 ESPN El Paso will have all the action beginning at 3 p.m. MT with the Countdown to Kickoff.