Southern Methodist (10-2) is searching for its first bowl win since 2012. The Mustangs have shined in the second year under head coach Sonny Dykes, who has unleashed a potent offense that is ranked 9th nationally. SMU set school records in points (43) and yards (495.3) per game this season. Five offensive starters were named to the all-conference team, including quarterback Shane Buechele, who led the AAC with 3,626 passing yards 33 touchdowns.
Florida Atlantic (10-3) will be coached by defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer in the absence of Lane Kiffin, who has departed to become the head coach at Ole Miss. The Owls went 26-13 in three seasons under Kiffin, and are coming off their second straight Conference USA championship. Spencer has done a good job reshaping the FAU defense in his first season on the sidelines. The Owls were third in C-USA in scoring defense allowing 22.3 points per game.
ESPN’s FPI gives FAU a 52.9% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Saturday’s Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl between the Mustangs and Owls.
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SMU vs. FAU Game Details
Date: Saturday, December 21
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: FAU Football Stadium (Boca Raton, Florida)
Spread: SMU -6.5
This line opened at SMU -3 and has been bet all the way up to SMU -6.5 with the majority of bets and money coming in on the Mustangs. This line is correlated with the action and is moving with the market.
- SMU is 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS this season
- FAU is 10-3 SU and 9-4 ATS this season
- Over is 9-3 in SMU games this season
- Over is 6-6-1 in FAU games this season
Analysis & Pick
FAU is short-handed in this game, which is why the line has jumped three points since it opened. The Owls will not only be without head coach Lane Kiffin, but will also be playing without several key starters. According to OwlAccess.com, wide receivers Pico Harrison and DeAngelo Antoine, as well as middle linebacker Keke Leroy, will not play due to academic suspensions. Additionally, tight end Harrison Bryant, running back Malcolm Davidson and defensive end Tim Bonner, will not play due to injury. The Owls are playing at their home stadium for the second time in Boca Raton Bowl history. The last time they stayed at home for the postseason, FAU defeated Akron 50-3 back in the 2017 Boca Raton Bowl in Kiffin’s first year as head coach. FAU went 5-2 at home this season and SMU was 4-2 on the road. I think the Owls will be the more motivated team in this game and rally around their interim head coach. However, the Mustangs are the deeper and more talented team, especially at wide receiver. James Proche and Reggie Roberson Jr. are ranked second and third in the conference, respectively, in receiving yards per game. Proche is second in the AAC and tied for third in the nation with 14 receiving touchdowns this season. With the suspensions for FAU, it’s hard to back the Owls here. SMU will up for the challenge of having to play a true road game in the postseason and cover this number.
PICK: SMU -6.5
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith