Staff Predictions: FAU prepares to potentially upset UF at Gainesville

The last time FAU faced UF resulted in a 20-14 overtime victory for the Gators back in 2015.


Photo by Alex Liscio.

FAU will play its first game of the 2021 season at Gainesville against the University of Florida.

Head coach Willie Taggart, after finishing his first season with the Owls with a 5-4 record, will look to make major improvements to get the Owls to where they want to be, starting with the Gators.

FAU’s last encounter against UF happened in 2015, where the Gators almost suffered an upset before winning 20-14 in overtime.

The University Press Sports Staff returns with their first predictions for 2021.


Richard Pereira – Sports Editor

What’s going to be a big game for FAU to start the season will need a lot of preparations. Going against a team ranked 11th in the nation in the Gators, those preparations must be carried out effectively.

Last season, UF averaged 39.8 points per game, which had them rank 13th out of 128 teams in the country. Even though UF lost key players in their offense due to graduation or being drafted into the NFL, it is crucial for the Owls to keep the Gators’ offense at bay for most of the game to have a chance at winning. 

The quarterback matchup appears to be in the Owls’ favor. Starting N’Kosi Perry, who has played 24 games in his career with the Miami Hurricanes before transferring to FAU, will give them an advantage over the Gators’ likely starting QB in Emory Jones. While Jones has appeared in the same number of games, he was used sparingly as a backup in prior seasons unlike Perry. 

With the abundance of experience Perry has after playing high-quality teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), he should have the edge heading into the game against UF.

Even though it shouldn’t be expected from the Owls to beat the Gators, if there ever was a time to prove doubters wrong, this game is that time.

Prediction: UF 30, FAU 24


Eston Parker III – Photo Editor

Given that Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts, and other crucial players from last year’s 2020 team have either graduated or made it to the NFL, FAU should look to take advantage of an adjusting Gators roster. 

Limiting the Gators’ ability to garner any sort of rhythm early in the game could see FAU keeping it close if not holding onto a lead. This will be an enormous challenge for the Owls, and will define whether or not they will have a chance to pull off the upset.

N’Kosi Perry’s experience from the University of Miami, alongside a majority of players entering their second season under Taggart, should also help the Owls going into this tough opening matchup.

Even if the Owls get off to a good start however, it still seems highly unlikely that they can come away from Gainesville with a victory.

Prediction: UF 34, FAU 24


Bryce Totz – Staff Writer

The Owls could make this game interesting, as the last time these two teams saw each other FAU almost upset Florida in Gainesville. The Gators were ranked eighth in the nation in that game.

Defense will be a key factor in this game. If FAU can quiet the crowd early with a couple of sacks and tackles for loss of yards, they may be able to have a chance.

This season, the Owls have a lot of players returning to the field including inside linebacker Akileis Leroy. Leroy had 55 tackles and three interceptions in 2019. 

Florida will start quick and try to gain a big lead early. The Gators will have a new starter at quarterback this season, which may cause issues during the first quarter, but they will find their groove.

FAU will need to start hot if they want a chance in this game, but that will be difficult. The team announced N’Kosi Perry as the starter, and although he has experience against big opponents including Clemson, it will be tough to have a rhythm early. 

The Owls may be able to surprise the Gators and keep it relatively close, but FAU will ultimately lose this one.

Prediction: UF 30, FAU 21


Trey Avant – Staff Writer

When closely examined, this year’s UF squad is very similar to last year’s FAU team. The Gators will have to overcome the loss of both quarterback Kyle Trask and tight end Kyle Pitts, both of whom went on to the NFL. On the other hand, the Owls had to endure the loss of tight end Harrison Bryant and quarterback Chris Robison last season. 

The similarities between the 2020 Owls and the 2021 Gators do not end there as UF is only fielding nine starters with previous starting experience. Their predicament is very similar to an FAU team that lost 15 starters by the start of last season.

This season, FAU will see the return of several starters and the introduction of some new and dynamic forces on offense. Graduate transfer quarterback N’Kosi Perry will be starting for the Owls and he is no stranger to primetime games and sophomore running back Johnny Ford has seized the starting job after a tremendous off-season.

While FAU’s defense is solid, they will have their hands full with junior quarterback Emory Jones and senior running backs Malik Davis and Dameon Pierce. Even with the arrival of Perry, the Owls might still struggle to get any production out of their wide receivers, especially against a defense that possesses Preseason All-American junior cornerback Kaiir Elam.

FAU will keep the game close in the beginning due to their experience but after a few adjustments at halftime, the more-talented Gators’ squad will pull away and secure the victory. 

Prediction: UF 31, FAU 17

For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet the staff:  Richard Pereira (@Rich26Pereira), Eston Parker III (@EstonParker), Bryce Totz (@brycetotz) Trey Avant (@TreyAvant3).