Football preview: FAU heads to Auburn for meeting with No. 11 Tigers

Wesley Wright

Like with Miami's Duke Johnson, FAU defenders will have their fulls containing Auburn's eighth-ranked rushing attack. Photo by Ryan Murphy.
Like with Miami’s Duke Johnson, FAU defenders will have their hands full containing Auburn’s eighth-ranked rushing attack. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

Coming off their bye week, the Florida Atlantic Owls (2-5) take on the Auburn Tigers (6-1), a team that has climbed to No. 11 in the nation following last week’s win over Texas A&M.

Despite extra time to prepare, the outcome is likely not going to be pretty for FAU, 23-point underdogs.

In his weekly press conference, FAU head coach Carl Pelini suggested otherwise, saying the bye week enhances the Owls’ preparation for this contest.

“The extra week helps against Auburn,” Pelini said. “They give you a lot of formations, a lot of sets. To have the extra week probably helped us in terms of our defensive staff getting ready.”

Pelini calls Auburn a “fast, physical” team, and said FAU will have to match the Tigers’ physicality to compete.

This means FAU quarterback Jaquez Johnson might find himself in a shootout with Auburn QB Nick Marshall, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week. If so, Johnson will rack up nice numbers, but the Owls’ offense just isn’t built to match touchdowns with the opposition.

Any chance the Owls have will come down to its defense, which has a tall task in stopping an arguably bigger, stronger and faster Tigers team. And they may indeed prove to be up to the task.

FAU ranks eighth in the country in passing yards allowed this season, and a respectable 31st in total defense.

However, the Tigers’ offensive personnel are a cut above almost every other opponent that the Owls have faced. Pelini, in his press conference, called Auburn starting running back Tre Mason “strong, fast and physical,” and mentioned that Auburn finds many ways to use him within the offense.

Mason, a Palm Beach native, has eight touchdowns while averaging almost 7 yards per carry this season. He leads the nation’s eighth-ranked rushing attack with 693 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

The Owls’ front seven –– namely defensive linemen Adarius Glanton, Cory Henry, Brandin Bryant, and linebacker Andrae Kirk –– will be tasked with their toughest challenge yet this season.

While FAU has improved in some areas by leaps and bounds, they simply face a different animal in this matchup. FAU should compete for around two and a half quarters before the discrepancy in talent rears its ugly head.

Expect this game to go down like the “paycheck” games from last season, when FAU played two SEC members in Georgia and eventual national champion Alabama. The two resulting losses came by a combined score of 96-27.

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