Football preview: Are the Owls ready to take their next step in Miami?

The Hurricanes defeated FAU last season in Boca Raton.

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Junior wide receiver Nate Terry celebrates a touchdown in last year’s game against Miami. It capped off quarterback Jason Driskel’s first collegiate drive. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Jordon Edwards, Contributing Writer

T

he Florida Atlantic University Owls have one week to transition from the high of a 38-30 season-opening victory to the challenge of facing the Hurricanes from the University of Miami.

The opening day win for FAU was the first since 2012. This year the Owls will be focused on earning a bowl bid — which requires at least six wins — for the first time since 2008 when they defeated Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl.

The University of Miami will be a big measuring stick for FAU. The Hurricanes are coming off a 70-3 win over the Rattlers of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. The margin of victory was the largest throughout the collegiate athletic association in its opening weekend.

The Owls have yet to defeat the Miami in their previous two meetings. Last season’s contest was a battle until the Hurricanes reeled off 24 unanswered points in the second half, which led to a final score of 44-20.

This season FAU is looking for a different outcome. The 38-point showcase by the Owls offense in their season opener must continue against a defense that has only allowed three points through its first 60 minutes.

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, FAU has less than a 5 percent chance of beating Miami.

Both teams are coming in with a 1-0 record for the first time in their series. Head football coach Charlie Partridge said shortly after last Saturday’s victory, “This is a different team.”

Owls to keep an eye on: 

Gregory Howell Jr.: The junior running back kick-started the offense against the Salukis. Howell turned his first three carries into 87 yards and two touchdowns.

Henry Bussey lll: The junior receiver caught six passes for 57 yards in his season debut. Although he didn’t reach the end zone, he became a go-to guy for the starting quarterback, redshirt sophomore Jason Driskel.

Jason Driskel: The redshirt sophomore proved to be a dual threat against Southern Illinois by connecting on 23 of his 31 passes for 287 yards with two scores. He also picked up another 41 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown.

Driskel showed poise in his performance Saturday and will need to show it again when he goes head-to-head with Miami starting quarterback Brad Kaaya, who completed 12 of his 18 pass attempts and added four touchdowns.

Kaaya is a consensus top-three quarterback prospect ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Trey Hendrickson: The senior defensive end accumulated five solo tackles, two quarterback hurries, a sack and a blocked field goal. The Preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year will have to be present against a Hurricane offense that had 523 yards — 373 from the ground.

The team teams will kick off on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Coral Gables.

Jordon Edwards is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him at @koolkidklassic.