Owls won’t stand a chance against bowl-bound Ragin’ Cajuns in season finale

Zack Kelberman

Who: FAU vs. ULL
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 3 p.m.
Where: FAU Stadium
Radio: ESPN 760
Prediction: ULL 40-24

Returning from a bye, the Owls (3-8) will close out their season at home against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (7-4), who’ve already accepted a bid to the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

Despite good vibes from the news of FAU’s move to Conference USA, don’t expect to see much to hoot about Saturday, as the seniors (Graham Wilbert and David Hinds, among others) will end their careers on a losing streak.

The Owls have been below average in Sun Belt conference play, accumulating a 2-5 mark. Louisiana-Lafayette went 5-2 versus the same teams, mostly in impressive fashion.

The Ragin’ Cajuns are coming off a 52-30 trouncing of South Alabama, the same squad FAU lost to in double overtime earlier this year. Prior to that, ULL eked out a victory against Western Kentucky, as did the Owls in their most impressive win of 2012.

But that strictly is where the commonality ends.

Louisiana-Lafayette ranks in the top 50 in three major categories – passing offense (43rd), rushing offense (47th) and scoring (34th).

The Cajuns’ one deficiency –– if you could call it that –– would be their defense, which ranks 64th overall, allowing 28.2 points per game. ULL has been scored upon, but that is mostly due to the opposition playing in catch-up mode.

Now compare those numbers to FAU.

Although quarterback Graham Wilbert has made serious strides in the second half of the season, leading the 69th-ranked passing offense, the Owls’ rushing attack (113th overall), scoring output (107th) and points allowed (83rd) put them at a severe disadvantage.

And that might be an understatement.

Led by quarterback Terrance Broadway, who’s thrown for 2,358 yards, ran for 538 and recorded 22 total touchdowns, Louisiana-Lafayette has scored at least 30 points in all but four games this season.

The Owls, by contrast, have let opponents hang 30 on them on six different occasions, including 56 and 40-point outbursts.

For FAU to have a shot at an upset, they’ll need to put together an absolute top-notch defensive performance, coupled with a turnover-free, time-consuming, TD-producing offensive game plan.

Judging by their recent efforts, though, it just doesn’t seem like FAU is ready to heed that call.

The game won’t get too out of hand –– the Owls do have a knack of playing up to superior competition –– but one inevitable turnover or missed opportunity should essentially put ULL on cruise control.