Football preview: the clash of the Owls

Florida Atlantic and Rice will battle for the chance to avoid being the worst team in the conference, and maybe the country.


FAU redshirt sophomore wide receiver Bobby Mitchell (8) runs for a first down. Mohammed F Emran | Staff Photographer

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

This season’s battle of the Owls will have a new twist to it as it is also the battle of the two worst teams in the country, according to Massey Ratings College Football Ranking Composite.

Rating Performance Index — a quantity which ranks teams based on record and quality of opponents faced — has Florida Atlantic and Rice University as the worst and sixth worst team respectively.

Both teams have won one game this season. Their wins came against a Football Championship Subdivision team, a team that is in a league under the Football Bowl Subdivision, which FAU and Rice are a part of.

FAU (1-7, 0-4 C-USA) defeated Southern Illinois by eight points on opening day before starting a losing streak which currently sits at seven games. The most recent, a 52-3 loss at the hands of Western Kentucky, was the largest margin of defeat at home in program history.

Rice (1-7, 0-5 C-USA) sandwiched its lone win between six losses to open the season and a 61-16 loss to Louisiana Tech last Saturday.

By the time this Saturday comes, both teams will have gone 342 days without a conference win.

Fortunately for the Texas-based Owls, FAU has been a good team to play against this season when trying to break a streak.

Florida International won its first game of the season against FAU on Oct. 1 after starting the year 0-4. Charlotte collected its first ever Conference USA and second FBS win in its programs history in Boca Raton a week later.

Marshall took advantage of FAU to snap a four-game losing streak as well.

After that loss, Charlie Partridge’s team entered its first bye week with a 1-6 record. Instead of serving as a chance to rejuvenate the team that lost six straight games, the bye week only delayed the inevitable.

Last season, FAU entered the Owls civil war with winning momentum while Rice was fresh off two straight losses. FAU pounced early and extended its lead to 26-14 with 13:50 remaining in the game.

Rice scored 14 unanswered points in the final eight minutes and stole a 28-26 victory.

Along with the conference’s two worst records, this year’s matchup will pit the conference’s worst defense — Rice allows 40 points per game — against its worst offense, as FAU only scores 20 points per game.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Driskel will have to make significant improvements from his 10-for-24 performance a week ago, where he totalled 52 passing yards. The running game, which appeared to find its groove heading into the bye week had its own problems against Western Kentucky, averaging 3.8 yards per rush.

On the other side of the ball, FAU’s conference-worst rushing defense will be tasked with slowing down the sixth most potent running team, which averages 166.6 yards on the ground per game.

With both teams’ dreams of playing in a bowl game already destroyed, this game could be the most crucial either will play for the rest of the season, as the loser will be the only winless team in the conference and most likely will have the dishonor of being the worst college football team in the country.

The game will kick off in Houston, Texas on Saturday, Oct. 4, at 3:30 p.m.

Brendan Feeney is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @feeney42.