FAU blows out SMU, 52-28, in Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl

FAU is now 4-0 in bowl games.


With the win, FAU has recorded their second 11-win season in the last three years. Photo by: Alex Liscio.

Zachary Weinberger, Sports Editor

The Owls stay undefeated in bowl games as they blew out the Southern Methodist University Mustangs 52-28 on Saturday in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl. 


The FAU Owls were underdogs before the game, especially since key offensive and defensive players missed the game due to academic suspensions and injuries. Some players that missed Saturday included star tight end Harrison Bryant, RB Malcolm Davidson, WR Deangelo Antoine and leading middle linebacker Akileis Leroy. 


Besides the absences, the Mustangs came into the game as one of the hottest offenses in the country. So the question arose, “Can the defense with the best turnover margin and the most interceptions in the country stop SMU?”


Simple answer: Yes.


Both teams started slow on offense, trading off three-and-outs until FAU got on the board first due to a productive drive that resulted in a BJ Emmons one-yard touchdown. 


As FAU and SMU were evenly matched for most of the first half, the last two minutes of the second quarter proved to be the momentum shifter for the Owls. 


As the Owls were leading 21-14 after James Charles scored on a 15-yard touchdown, the next SMU drive proved how opportunistic the FAU defense is. Mustangs QB Shane Buechele threw an interception on the first play of the drive, on the receiving end was linebacker Rashad Smith. 


The turnover led to the touchdown pass from Chris Robison to Brandon Robinson, who was filling in as receiver, as Antoine and Harrison were placed on academic suspension. 


Going into the second half with a 28-14 lead, it was smooth sailing for the Owls until the end. 


Chris Robison was awarded the offensive bowl MVP finishing the day with 305 passing yards and two touchdowns. He got everybody involved Saturday, especially tight end John Raine who had seven receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown. 


With Harrison Bryant on his way to the NFL next season, John Raine will likely take up the lead tight end spot next season. 


For Raine, he feels like he’s ready to take up the role. 


“Honestly for the past four years, I’ve been preparing like I was the starter,” Raine said. “Getting the opportunity, it’s not a surprise for me.  I stepped up, and having a great quarterback and offensive team, they made it easier on me.” 


Interim head coach Glenn Spencer was filled with joy after the win in what is possibly his final game coaching the Owls since news broke before the game that FAU is set to hire Jim Leavitt as the next defensive coordinator. However, he was super proud of the team and what they accomplished this season. 


“I came down here last year because I knew these guys can win a championship,” Spencer said. “They bought in when I came here defensively and did tremendously … for the nation to see what these guys accomplished tonight, it’s a testament to what they’ve done this season.”


Punter Matt Hayball took home the Bowl’s special teams MVP after averaging 48 yards per punt, a long of 60 and had two kicks inside the 20-yard line. 


Linebacker Rashad Smith won defensive MVP for the Bowl totaling 11 tackles, recovering a fumble for a touchdown and intercepting a pass. 


With the blowout win yesterday, FAU remains undefeated in bowl games (4-0) and records their second 11-win season in three years.


With the 2019 season over, the Owls now enter a new era under head coach Willie Taggart starting next season.


Zachary Weinberger is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @ZachWeinberger.