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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Staff Predictions: FAU to lose season finale against Rice on the road

The University Press sports staff remains split in the season’s final game between FAU and Rice.
The+FAU+defense+getting+set+for+a+third+down+against+the+Tulane+offense+during+the+Owls+24-8+loss+in+their+home+finale+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+18%2C+2023.
Gasner Delvarin, Jr.
The FAU defense getting set for a third down against the Tulane offense during the Owls’ 24-8 loss in their home finale on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

On Saturday, the Florida Atlantic Owls (4-7, 3-4 AAC) lost to the No. 17 Tulane University Green Wave (10-1, 7-0 AAC) 24-8. This loss not only put the Owls on a three-game losing streak but also cost them another bowl eligibility for the fourth straight season.

Now without a bowl game this season for FAU and first-year head coach Tom Herman, and ineligible for the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Championship game, FAU looks forward to their last game of the season on the road against the Rice University Owls (5-6, 3-4 AAC). 

Rice returns home after a 28-7 road victory over the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers (3-8, 1-5 AAC). 

The University Press sports staff predicted FAU’s season finale against Rice in the Battle of the Owls.

Maddox Greenberg – Sports Editor

Another season and FAU isn’t bowling. It is truly shocking to hear that because when FAU signed Tom Herman, he was going to bring the Owls back to a bowl game and win (since Herman is 5-0 in his career as head coach in bowl games). 

This season has been a learning curve for Herman, the team, and the fans. In his first season in the AAC, he dealt with difficult opponents on the road and at home and witnessed winnable games falling out of the Owls’ hands.

With nothing to lose on the road against Rice, FAU has the chance to be in a different position: eliminating a team from bowl eligibility. 

This season, Rice is 5th in the AAC in scoring offense, averaging about 30 points. FAU’s razor thin secondary has to isolate redshirt junior wide receiver Luke McCaffrey, the younger brother of NFL running back Christian, who averages about 75 receiving yards and has a total of 11 touchdowns this season. 

FAU junior quarterback Daniel Richardson has been uncomfortable in the pocket the past couple of games, getting sacked 14 times overall. Rice’s defense has allowed 27.2 points per game this season, 8th in the AAC. 

This matchup will be big, as both teams are tied 2-2 in the series, with FAU coming into the game with two straight wins and a 17-14 road victory last season.

Prediction: FAU 20, Rice 7

Cameron Priester – Editor-at-Large

The stakes on Saturday will be much higher for Rice than for FAU. 

Sitting at 5-6 heading into the season’s final week, a win for Rice would clinch their second bowl appearance in two years. There’s an opportunity for Rice’s senior quarterback, JT Daniels, who’s played at four different schools in six years, to end his rocky college career on a high note.

On the other hand, there is FAU. Sitting at 4-7, any chance at a bowl game is gone with last Saturday’s defeat. FAU has nothing to play for besides good feelings. Even when there was something to play for, FAU’s performance usually didn’t live up to the stakes. 

So, I’m going to be partial to the team that has everything to play for over the team that has nothing to play for.

Prediction: Rice 28, FAU 14

JD Delcastillo – Staff Writer

This has been another disappointing football season at FAU. Losing starting graduate quarterback Casey Thompson to an ACL tear at the beginning of the season threw a wrench into Tom Herman’s plans for this offense, and the team never found any consistency on either side of the ball this year. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I don’t know what the program can learn from this season. 

The only source of motivation for this team is going out on a win for the 22 senior and graduate students who may well be playing their last game of organized football. The only problem is that they’re going into enemy territory against a competitive Rice University football team. 

Rice made it a close game against Tulane University on Oct. 28, losing 30-28, as well as in their game against the University of Connecticut, losing 38-31 on Oct. 7. They also beat the University of Houston 43-41 in overtime at the beginning of the season. Rice averages 30 points a game with a sub-par rushing offense and above average passing offense. 

FAU’s secondary has been getting torched the last few games, giving up an average of 302 passing yards during their three-game losing streak, along with six total passing touchdowns. For a team that hung its hat on defense early into the season, the team has gotten away from that. 

What else is there to say? See you all next season, I guess.

Prediction: Rice 34, FAU 21

Anthony Brown – Staff Writer

In particular, FAU have been unable to establish any run game. Averaging less than a yard per carry over the last two games, FAU gained 21 rushing yards on 31 carries against East Carolina and 32 yards on 30 carries against Tulane, the only team in the AAC to hold the conference’s top rusher under 100 yards. 

While their passing offense hasn’t been solid, their rushing defense has been productive. There is no denying that FAU is incredibly strong in the front, which limits opponents to 3.6 yards per rush. Passing defenses don’t hold up as well as running  defenses for the Owls, which ranked 112th in the country.

In his second 100-yard performance of the year, Dean Connors amassed 184 yards on 19 carries last week. Connors’ success will heavily influence rice’s offensive performance in this game. 

In addition to their running game, they have a dynamic pass game and redshirt junior wide receiver Luke McCaffrey was dominant in the Charlotte game last week, making several critical receptions. McCaffrey’s 11 touchdowns this year rank him 7th among all college receivers. He is on a six-game receiving touchdown streak. 

As a result of the Owls’ recent failure to generate a lot of offense from the run game, they will rely heavily on the combination of Richardson and junior wide receiver LaJohntay Wester going forward. However, Rice’s passing offense will be the difference maker. As Rice averages 30.8 points per game, they are set to capitalize on FAU’s weaknesses on defense. Rice’s 38th-ranked passing offense should dominate the field, making them a solid pick to beat Florida Atlantic with their air attack. 

Prediction: Rice 31, FAU 24

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

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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.
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].
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.

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