More than Meets the Eye: 2014 Game Predictions

Head+Coach+Charlie+Partridge+holds+the+team+back+as+they+get+set+to+play+Tulsa+for+the+Owls%E2%80%99+home+opener+last+year.+This+year%27s+matchup+will+be+played+in+Tulsa.+Photo+by+Michelle+Friswell+

Michelle Friswell

Head Coach Charlie Partridge holds the team back as they get set to play Tulsa for the Owls’ home opener last year. This year's matchup will be played in Tulsa. Photo by Michelle Friswell

Aug. 30 at Nebraska

The University of Nebraska is paying FAU a handsome fee of $1 million for this early-season game, a tune-up of sorts. Since Bo Pelini is still the head coach at UN,  this game would be a Pelini v. Pelini affair if former FAU head coach Carl Pelini hadn’t resigned amid allegations of drug use last November. In his place is Charlie Partridge, who will be overmatched in the first game of his head coaching career. Look for a big game out of Omaha native Brandin Bryant. The Cornhuskers are a team more gifted in every facet of the game, and they will beat FAU soundly.

Score: 42-13, Nebraska

Sept. 6 at Alabama —

This season’s edition of the Crimson Tide looks every bit as good as last year’s — on paper at least — and even their second string squad would probably beat the first string Owls. Alabama is also forking over $1 million for this game, which should be the second and last blowout of the year for FAU. The Owls who must play these games against superior teams so FAU gets sorely needed funding.

Score: 56-7, Alabama

Sept. 13 vs. Tulsa —

Tulsa was considered a Conference USA favorite last season, but only managed three wins. Gone are the days of alternating quarterbacks for the Owls — Jaquez Johnson is firmly at the helm of the FAU offense, one that will run the ball around two-thirds of the time and ask its quarterback to make big plays only when necessary. On a side note, Partridge has agreed to sport bright red trousers on game day if the student section is filled at any of the five FAU home games this season.

Score: 31-21, Florida Atlantic

Sept. 20 at Wyoming —

The flight from Boca Raton to Laramie is a long nine hours. Jet lag is a possible issue, as well as elevation — the playing field at the University of Wyoming is around 1.4 miles above sea level. Charlie Partridge simply has a more talented team than Craig Bohl, and the Owls will not let outside factors deter them from another win. After defeating FAU 30-28 in 2009, Florida Atlantic became the only team Wyoming has ever beaten in the state of Florida. This September, FAU will finally get a chance to get their revenge on enemy turf.

Score: 24-14, Florida Atlantic     

Sept. 27 vs. Texas-San Antonio —

With a 7-5 showing last year, the Roadrunners came just one game short of winning the Western Division of Conference USA, and that was in just their third year of existence. Thirty-eight seniors are on this year’s team, coached by Larry Coker, formerly of the Miami Hurricanes. FAU will beat this experienced squad at home, helped by some shoddy play by unproven UTSA quarterback Tucker Carter.

Score: 28-21, Florida Atlantic

Oct. 2 at FIU

Last year, the University of Louisville beat the Florida International Panthers 72-0 — so bad in fact, that the two teams decided to employ a running clock to bring the game to a quicker close. FIU was terrible last year, winning just one of its 12 games. Their lone win  came by just one point over Southern Mississippi (another one win team). There are no signs that the Golden Panthers will put a better product on the field this season. Count this as a win for FAU over its bitter rival for the second consecutive year.

Score: 31-14, Florida Atlantic

Oct. 18 vs. Western Kentucky —

WKU left the Sun Belt Conference in favor of Conference USA, same as FAU and a host of other schools. Eight wins last year gave Western Kentucky a new school record, and even so, it was not selected for a bowl bid. Former WKU offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm is now the team’s head coach. Brohm presides over a solid team, but their eight wins last year were due in part to a soft schedule. FAU will pull out a close victory in Boca Raton.

Score: 35-21, Florida Atlantic

Oct. 25 at Marshall —

One of the keys to the recent success of the Thundering Herd is how well they recruit the state of Florida. Quarterback Rakeem Cato (a product of Miami Northwestern High School) is back, ready to lead Marshall into another strong season. The Owls lost to Marshall last year on a late field goal, and they’ll lose in a similar fashion this year, only it’ll be in West Virginia this time around.

Score: 28-24, Marshall

Nov. 1 vs. UAB —

FAU beat Alabama-Birmingham 37-23 in the game in which former Owl cornerback Keith Reaser tore his ACL. Reaser is now playing for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and the Owls will win another game over UAB without him. The Blazers were hapless last season, going 2-10 and seeing their coach resign after two years to take a job at Louisville. FAU will win over a UAB program that has had very little consistency in recent years.

Score: 27-20, Florida Atlantic

Nov. 8 at North Texas —

UNT went 9-4 last season and ended its season with a bowl victory over the University of Las Vegas. FAU is a few years away from being able to win conference road games, but as it gets used to performing under elevated expectations, those wins may come in the near future. This week, though, the Owls will lose late.

Score: 24-13, North Texas

Nov. 22 at Middle Tennessee —

FAU lost to the Blue Raiders in a high scoring affair last year, and Middle Tennessee was the only team who really outclassed the Owl defense. The Owls will rise up and grab a solid road win. With five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing), FAU Quarterback Jaquez Johnson had the best game of his short career last year. Don’t expect another such performance, but count on a road win for the Owls, who know that to compete for bowls, they will need to win games on the road like these.

Score: 27-24, Florida Atlantic

Nov. 29 vs Old Dominion —

ODU only managed to win home games last year, and it lost to every team from a major or mid-major conference. In short, the Monarchs lost to every viable team, and they beat all of the teams that they were supposed to. Florida Atlantic is no pushover — especially at home — and it will beat ODU handily.

Score: 27-6, Florida Atlantic

Final record: 8-4

Our prediction: New head coach Charlie Partridge will have his team at or near the top of Conference USA by the end of November. Having learned a little each day about how to be the face of a program, he’ll end his debut season with a bowl game.