FAU Football: Owls look to secure bowl eligibility on the road against Middle Tennessee

Last season’s 27-17 loss to Middle Tennessee eliminated FAU from bowl eligibility.


Paul Leachman

Willie Taggert celebrating with his owls after their victory against UAB on Oct. 29, 2022.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

After a dominating win in the Shula Bowl last week, the FAU Owls (5-5, 4-2 C-USA) will take on the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders (5-5, 2-4 C-USA) this Saturday at Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tenn. 

Head coach Willie Taggart acknowledged what is at stake for both teams as they look to secure bowl eligibility with two weeks left in the season. 

We understand what this game means and where it can get us. It can get us to a bowl game, and it can get us closer to possibly playing in the conference championship,” said Taggart. “But for us and how it has been the whole year, it’s trying to focus on the process and not the end result.”

When the teams faced off in last season’s regular season finale it resulted in a 27-17 victory for the Blue Raiders, which eliminated the Owls from bowl eligibility. 

Offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon, who held the same position at Middle Tennessee last season, said he was excited to return to his former stomping grounds.   

“It’s a place that I know well. They have a great group of players and great group of coaches,” said Dearmon. “It’s going to be good seeing those guys, but you want to get a victory anytime you play a team you’ve seen before.”

Last Saturday’s 52-17 victory over FIU was the most points the Owls’ offense has scored in a game under Dearmon. Despite dealing with a hand injury, graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry completed 66.7% of his passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns, along with two additional rushing touchdowns. 

This week, however, they’ll be facing one of the better defenses in C-USA against Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders’ are ranked first in the conference in rushing defense, allowing only 134.4 rushing yards per game. 

“They play with unbelievable effort. They stress turnovers, they stress flying to the football,” said Dearmon on the Blue Raiders’ defense. “All eleven guys make a big emphasis of being around the ball. We’ve got to make sure to match their effort, because you know they’re going to bring it.” 

Kickoff is set for Saturday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Cameron Priester is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron