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Staff Predictions: Owls host the Golden Hurricane in first conference game

The UP Sports staff predict the outcome of FAU’s first conference game in the AAC against Tulsa.
Courtesy of FAU Athletics
Graduate defensive back Jarron Morris playing against the University of Illinois during the Owls’ 23-17 loss on Sept. 23, 2023.

FAU football (1-3, 0-0 AAC) return home to face the Tulsa University Golden Hurricane (3-2, 1-0 AAC) in the Owls’ first conference play in the American Athletic Conference on Saturday.

Before their bye week, FAU lost to the University of Illinois 23-17 in Champaign, Ill. on Sept. 23. Junior quarterback Daniel Richardson went for 28/49 and threw for 256 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. 

Head coach Tom Herman will be making his return to coaching in the AAC, having been the head coach for the University of Houston back in 2015. In a press conference on Monday, Herman said he knows Tulsa’s first-year head coach Kevin Wilson from when they worked together at Ohio State University in 2014. 

The Owls are looking to get out their three-game slump, having only won the home opener back in early September to Monmouth University, 42-20.

Maddox Greenberg – Sports Editor

It’s finally the moment everyone has been waiting for–first conference play. Now in a much tougher conference, the Owls look to prove themselves against the Golden Hurricane.

FAU is coming off of three straight losses, but with an extra week of rest, they look to gain some momentum as they return home. However, the Golden Hurricane won’t be an easy opponent.

Their quarterback, redshirt freshman Cardell Williams, is 18th in the nation in passing efficiency. He threw for 840 total yards this season and eight touchdowns. He has some strong weapons on offense, with redshirt senior Anthony Watkins rushing for 320 yards and redshirt sophomore Marquis Shoulders with 283 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns.

The Golden Hurricane’s defense is 28th in the nation in third down conversion percentage and tied-28th in fourth down conversion percentage. They have some key players on defense, including graduate safety Kendarin Ray, who leads the team in tackles with 46.

The Owls need to do two things to win this game on Saturday: one, the offense needs to capitalize on the defense’s successes; and two, the defense cannot let open pockets for receivers to be able to catch the ball and gain extra yards.

The Owls need to rely on the passing game more than the run game, and Richardson has to be comfortable in the pocket in order to find either junior wide receiver LaJohntay Wester, or another wideout.

The game will be a close one, but with Herman’s experience coaching in The American, the Owls will win this.

Prediction: FAU 28, Tulsa 24

Cameron Priester – Editor-at-Large

After three straight losses, FAU fans have a right to feel antsy, maybe even a bit worried. 

An abysmal offensive showing against Ohio, a 48-14 hammering at Clemson that felt worse than the score implied, and a complete collapse at Illinois was not the start to the Tom Herman era that Owls fans imagined. It felt more like a continuation of the Willie Taggart years they’re trying to forget.

But they should also take solace in the fact that the past three games—hosting a very talented Ohio team, before traveling to Power 5 opponents back-to-back—is far and away the toughest stretch of games they’ll face all season. 

Especially after two weeks of rest, Tulsa provides a golden opportunity to bounce back.

The offense still hasn’t found its footing. In Daniel Richardson’s first start after taking over for the injured Casey Thompson, the offense failed to score more than 17 points for the third consecutive game. 

But Tulsa’s defense has had their moments as well. They’re averaging 31.2 points allowed per game, which ranks 12th of 14 AAC teams, and two weeks off should’ve left enough time to scheme up a game plan that Richardson will be comfortable with come Saturday. 

Prediction: FAU 24, Tulsa 21

JD Delcastillo – Staff Writer

The Owls are looking to land their first win in their inaugural AAC game, as well as their first win in over a month. However, it will not be handed to them. It will need to be earned by putting up lots of points. 

The University of Tulsa football team is averaging 37 points a game, excluding their games against #12 University of Oklahoma and #7 University of Washington, in which they lost to them. Tulsa gets most of its yardage in the run game, so FAU’s run defense will be a key factor in this game. If Tulsa gets their run game going, that will open up the passing game, and FAU does not want to get in a shootout with this team.

On the contrary, this Tulsa team is giving up an average of 295 passing yards a game. Although these stats are inflated from their two losses, it’s a promising sign for the FAU offense that likes to do most of their work through the air. FAU’s quarterback Daniel Richardson had a solid showing against the University of Illinois, completing 57% of his passes, and throwing for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Tulsa’s defense is nowhere near the level of Illinois, so there is lots of opportunity for Richardson and the FAU offense to feast. 

This game could go either way. With FAU dealing with injuries all season, the bye week gave the team a much-needed break to get healthy and rested after a tough three-game stretch. There is the possibility of the team looking flat because of the break, but the hope is that the team competes with their backs against the wall and avoid a four-game losing streak.

Prediction: FAU 38, Tulsa 35

Anthony Brown – Staff Writer

The running game is the main source of points for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane with 194.2 yards per game. Due to all the running plays, they score very few points because of the low passing attempts per game. Although the Golden Hurricanes average 27.8 points, they have three games this season in which they have scored fewer than 24 points.

Furthermore, FAU narrowly lost by six points to the University of Illinois of the Big Ten Conference last week, almost posting an upset. Although this team is playing without its starting quarterback Casey Thompson, who tore his ACL in week three of the season, there are plenty of weapons to choose from, including senior running back Larry McCammon averaging over six yards per carry and junior wide receiver LaJohntay Wester, who accumulated over 400 yards on the season. 

During the game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Richardson should be targeting the Golden Hurricane’s secondary. Tulsa’s defense ranks 131th in the nation in defending against the pass, letting up an average of 331.8 passing yards. Richardson threw 256 yards against Illinois. 

The Owls have yet to defeat a FBS team this year. Tulsa looked very good in their last game against Temple and they will continue that offensive success in this game. FAU had a chance at the upset against Illinois in their last game, but didn’t play very well after the first quarter. Both of these defenses have some bad numbers on the year, but Tulsa did allow 66 and 43 points to Oklahoma and Washington respectively. 

Prediction: FAU 24, Tulsa 21

For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM the staff: Maddox Greenberg (@MaddoxGreenberg), Cameron Priester (@PriesterCameron), JD Delcastillo (@jd.delcastillo), and Anthony Brown (@popular_vlone).

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About the Contributors
Maddox Greenberg, Sports Editor
Maddox started writing sports for the UP in Summer 2022 with the intention of improving his journalistic writing. He is a sophomore majoring in multimedia journalism and plans on becoming a sports broadcaster. He is a broadcaster for FAU Owl Radio.
JD Delcastillo, Sports Editor
JD is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in sports studies and digital marketing. Since high school, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in the sports industry. He's published work in magazines, started his own sports newsletter, and currently interns with ESPN West Palm.
Cameron Priester, Editor-at-Large
Cameron Priester is an Editor-at-Large for the University Press. Having served as Sports Editor for the 2022-23 academic year, he is a multimedia journalism major and intends on pursuing a career in sports journalism. He can be found on Twitter @PriesterCameron and you can email him at [email protected].

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