Florida Atlantic Owls vs. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles - 11/30/19 NCAA Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at Florida Atlantic Owls
Saturday, November 30, 2019 at 3:30 PM (FAU Football Stadium)
Florida Atlantic -10.5; Total 56.5
The mess that is Conference USA will be decided on Saturday when the final games of the season are played. Two teams that still have strong possibilities of winning their division of C-USA will face off when the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (7-4, 5-2 C-USA) will travel to the FAU Football Stadium in Boca Raton to take on the Florida Atlantic Owls (8-3, 6-1 C-USA).
Florida Atlantic sits atop the C-USA East Division but it has not locked up its spot in the C-USA title game. In order to win the East, the Owls need to win Saturday’s game against Southern Miss. Southern Miss, however, will also need to win in order to take the West Division, but it will need help. The Golden Eagles need to defeat Florida Atlantic and if Louisiana Tech loses.
Things could get very interesting, though, if Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech, and UAB all win. That would leave all three with a 6-2 record in conference and none of the first seven tie-breakers would determine a champion. If that is the case, the conference would go to the eighth tie-breaker, which would be the team with the highest average computer ranking of five different ranking systems. Heading into this weekend, Southern Miss is ranked highest of these three teams in two rankings, second in two, and third in one, while Louisiana Tech is ranked top in two rankings and second in three. Clearly, even that criteria is tight with one game to go.
So to simplify, Florida Atlantic will win the East if it wins. It can also win the East if the Owls lose but Marshall loses to Florida International. Southern Miss needs to win and for Louisiana Tech to lose to take the West. Or, there’s that whole computer ranking thing if they all win.
Confusing? Yes. But there is no doubt that both teams will be at their best in this one.
If recent form is one of the keys to victory, the Owls have the edge. FAU has won four in a row and eight of its last night, with the lone loss coming in a 36-31 loss to Marshall. The Owls are playing their best football of the season of late, winning each of the games on the current win streak by an average of 23.3 points per game. Most impressively is that three of those four wins came on the road with the lone home game being a 37-7 win over Florida International two weeks ago.
FAU sophomore Chris Robison ranks 16th in FBS in passing yards with 2,973 and he has passed for 19 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Senior tight end Harrison Bryant is the leading receiver with 890 yards and three touchdowns. Six different receivers have caught a touchdown pass this season with senior John Raine leading the way with five touchdown receptions with seniors Deangelo Antoine and John Mitchell catching four apiece. Freshman Malcolm Davison is the leading rusher with 570 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns.
Southern Miss had won three in a row before last weekend’s 28-10 loss to Western Kentucky. That loss made the Golden Eagles’ road to the C-USA title game much more difficult. But prior to that loss, Southern Miss had won five of six including impressive wins such as 20-6 over Rice, 37-2 against UAB, and 36-17 at UTSA.
The way to success for the Golden Eagles is through the air, and the man who puts the ball in the air for Southern Miss is junior Jack Abraham, who ranks 11th in FBS with 3,147 yards passing. He has also thrown 18 touchdowns but he has also tossed 11 interceptions as well. Those 11 interceptions are the fifth most in FBS. Junior Quez Watkins has been the recipient of Abraham’s passing, ranking sixth in FBS in yards per game with 112.3, while his 19.4 yards per reception is 20th in FBS. Junior Tim Jones is also putting together an impressive receiving season with 774 receiving yards.
Southern Miss also runs just enough to keep a defense honest, and because of that passing attack, the ground game is effective. Junior Kevin Perkins has rushed for 543 yards and three touchdowns, while senior De’Michael Harris has carried the ball a team-high 103 times for 516 yards and five touchdowns. Perkins and Harris average 5.5 and 5.0 yards per carry respectively.
The home team has to be considered the favorite to win the game outright, but 10.5 points just seem to be too much in a game that means so much to both teams. However, the thing to keep close attention to is the Golden Eagles’ passing attack. If Abraham can get the air game going against a Florida Atlantic defense that is not great against the pass (100th in FBS in passing yards allowed), Southern Miss could win the game outright. But forget the money line, take the 10.5 points and Southern Miss.