Staff Predictions: Owls seek redemption in road matchup against Western Kentucky

Last season featured a 10-6 home victory for FAU against the Hilltoppers.


Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

The FAU Owls will finish their two-game road trip in Bowling Green, Ky. to have an encounter with Western Kentucky University (WKU) on Saturday, Nov. 20 at noon.

After a disappointing 30-16 loss on the road to the Old Dominion Monarchs, head coach Willie Taggart has to retool the game plan for the Owls to get back on track and keep their chances of bowl eligibility alive.

The University Press Sports Staff selects the team who will come out on top after going 0-4 in their picks for FAU’s last matchup with Old Dominion.


Richard Pereira – Sports Editor (6-4)

This game will prove to be one of the most difficult of all the games FAU has played this season, going up against a solid Western Kentucky squad that is 5-1 in conference play.

The Hilltoppers’ strong suit is their offense, ranking seventh in the nation for an average of 41.4 points per game. 

Leading that WKU offense is quarterback Bailey Zappe, who has thrown for a total of 4,170 yards and 42 touchdowns this season. While the Hilltoppers’ receivers should be the main priority for the Owls’ defense to focus on, they should keep an eye on running back Adam Cofield, who has 337 rushing yards and four touchdowns for Western Kentucky.

Not only will FAU’s defense need to step up, the offense also has to revive itself after being stagnant the past two games against Marshall and Old Dominion, only scoring a combined 29 points to 58 from both opponents.

Graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry should look to get graduate wide receiver John Mitchell and graduate tight end Zaire Mitchell-Paden back into rhythm as they haven’t been active the past few games due to the number of limited passes that went their way. Doing so will help the overall offense from relying too much on the running game and relieving some pressure off of sophomore running back Johnny Ford, who’s had back-to-back performances of over 100 rushing yards.

Unless FAU proves otherwise, Western Kentucky is and should be the favored victor for this matchup.

Prediction: WKU 28, FAU 24


Eston Parker III – Photo Editor (5-5)

Another week, another tough and imposing challenge for the Owls. 

Following last week’s rough loss to Old Dominion, FAU arguably has a tougher matchup this weekend as they travel to face Western Kentucky. Beyond being the homecoming match for Willie Taggart, he and his Owls will have their hands full this Saturday.

Western Kentucky has an explosive offense, scoring just over 41 points per game while putting up almost 521 yards of total offense per game. The Owls will have to keep up offensively if they wish to not get blown away by the Hilltoppers, yet this seems unlikely considering their previous two matchups.

Not to mention, the Owls have been abysmal on the road with the exception of their impressive win over Charlotte earlier this season. Combine that with WKU’s strong five-game winning streak, it is likely that this will be a long day for the Owls.

There will be no room for error for FAU, and they must play an efficient and effective game to snap their current two-game skid. That means that receivers eliminate their problems with dropped passes, something that incoming wide receivers coach Hines Ward will be certain to address, and eliminating their penalty problem for last week.

The Owls’ consistently poor play in the last couple weeks is an unwelcoming sign entering Saturday’s game, and Western Kentucky will almost certainly expose the many weaknesses that FAU currently has.

Prediction: WKU 45, FAU 20


Bryce Totz – Staff Writer (7-3)

The Owls’ losing skid will extend to three this weekend. Over the past two games, the team seems to be deflated.

Last week against the Monarchs, the Owls were penalized 12 times for 104 yards, and they turned the ball over twice. They also held the ball just 22:28. 

Over the past two weeks, FAU has scored just 29 points, compared to its two-game winning streak the two previous weeks where they scored a combined 66 points. Overall this season, the Owls are averaging just over 27 points per game, while conceding 23.

The Hilltoppers are scoring 41.4 points a game and allowing 28.6. Western Kentucky is also riding a five-game winning streak, as its only conference loss came against UTSA. They also have the advantage where they can not only look at old FAU film, but its own as this is a homecoming for Taggart.

Unless the Owls get off to a quick start like they did in the second half against Charlotte, they will lose.

Prediction: WKU 42, FAU 14


Trey Avant – Staff Writer (6-4)

FAU gives up 228.2 passing yards per game, which is good for 64th in the nation, but they will have their hands full against a Western Kentucky team that boasts the best passing offense in the country.

Senior quarterback Bailey Zappe leads the NCAA in passing yards and passing touchdowns with 4,170 passing yards and 42 passing touchdowns to just seven interceptions. 

Junior wide receiver Jerreth Sterns has been the recipient of most of Zappe’s completions, ranking second in the country in receiving yards and tying for first in receiving touchdowns.

Mitchell Tinsley, Malachi Corley, and Daewood Davis round out a dangerous receiving corps, combining for 19 touchdowns. 

While the Hilltoppers have the best offense in the country, they also possess one of the worst defenses in the country as well. FAU has the personnel to take full advantage of WKU’s biggest weakness and the game can turn into a shootout really quickly, but FAU’s offense is too inconsistent for them to win this game.

Prediction: WKU 53, 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).