I’m sure Akron as a team is happy to be playing in a bowl game and will be not far from a nice beach in Boca Raton for a few days. But the Zips got hosed a bit in the Boca Raton Bowl because it will be a home game for Coach Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic side. And it is a solid betting favorite in the NCAAF odds.
2017 Boca Raton Bowl Betting Preview: Akron vs. Florida Atlantic
In one week, these guys are going head-to-head at this year’s Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl! 🍒🏈 pic.twitter.com/EKRIiXBZSp
— Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (@BocaBowl) December 12, 2017
When: Tuesday, Dec. 19, 7 PM ET
Where: FAU Football Stadium
Radio: 1350 AM (Akron) / WFTL 640-AM (Florida Atlantic)
Opening NCAAF Lines: FAU -22.5 (61.5)
This is one of the newer bowls in the rotation as it has only been around since 2014 and always has been played the week before Christmas. The first Boca Raton Bowl saw Marshall of Conference USA rout Northern Illinois of the MAC, 52-23. The next year, Toledo of the MAC beat Temple of the AAC, 32-17. And last year, Western Kentucky of C-USA beat Memphis of the AAC, 51-31. So the C-USA is unbeaten in two Boca Raton Bowls but none of the three overall have been very close.
Why Bet on Akron?
Akron (7-6) as the MAC East champion but lost 45-28 to Toledo in the conference title game. The Rockets led 38-0 at one point. Akron didn’t score until Manny Morgan’s rushing touchdown with 30 seconds left in the third quarter. The Rockets finished with a 561-396 edge in yardage. “They played a little softer in the second half, because they knew they were so far ahead,” Akron coach Terry Bowden said. “Our guys played as hard as they could, and we got some quick scores late, but Toledo still won by a good margin.”
Morgan is the team’s leading rusher with 393 yards and four touchdowns on 99 carries. Under center, redshirt freshman Kato Nelson is 61-of-125 for 909 yards and eight touchdowns. Redshirt senior WR Tra’Von Chapman is the top receiver with 50 receptions for 456 yards and two touchdowns. It’s not clear who will start at QB here. The Zips started freshman Nelson in the MAC championship game, but senior Thomas Woodson came in to relieve him in the game.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior linebacker Uylsees Gilbert III is ranked No. 15 nationally in total tackles (9.8), while junior defensive back Jordan George is No. 19 in interceptions. Akron is No. 7 in defensive touchdowns (4), No. 25 in turnover margin (.58) and No. 31 in red zone defense (0.791).
Since jumping to Division I-A (FBS) in 1987, the Zips have made just two prior bowl appearances. The 2005 squad, under head coach J.D Brookhart, won the 2005 Mid-American Conference championship (with a 31-30 victory over Northern Illinois) and advanced to the Motor City Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit. The Zips lost to Memphis 38-31. In 2015, under Bowden, Akron made its second bowl appearance and captured its first FBS bowl victory with a 23-21 win over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
- Average Score For: 23.62
- Total Yards: 329.85
- Pass Yards: 221.31
- Rush Yards: 108.54
- Average Score Against: 26.31
- Total Yards: 432.24
- Pass Yards: 235.62
- Rush Yards: 196.62
Why Bet on Florida Atlantic?
Kiffin did a fantastic job in leading FAU to a 10-3 record and 8-0 in Conference USA. The Owls blasted North Texas 41-17 in the conference title game. Devin Singletary had 26 carries for 164 yards and three touchdowns for the Owls, who extended their unbeaten streak to nine games. Jason Driskel completed 15 of 27 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown for FAU, and Kalib Woods had a school-record 208 receiving yards. FAU had 633 yards of offense. It took a 34-0 lead in the first 33 minutes, had gains of 47, 49, 22, 44, 21 and 34 yards in the first quarter alone, and the lead was never really threatened.
Singletary is FAU’s top rusher with 1,796 yards and the national leader with 29 touchdowns on 275 carries. Driskel is 166-of-253 for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns. Freshman WR Willie Wright is the top receiver with 586 yards and four touchdowns on 49 receptions. The Owls bring a balanced defense led by linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and safety Jalen Young, that ranks first in passes intercepted (18).
The Owls are making their third bowl appearance in their 17-year history. FAU played in the 2007 New Orleans Bowl [W, 44-27 vs. Memphis], the first year the Owls were eligible to participate in an FBS bowl, and in the 2008 Motor City Bowl [W, 24-21 vs. Central Michigan].
Both schools played Buffalo this year. The Zips recorded a 21-20 home win in MAC play, while the Owls fell to the Bulls 34-31 in New York. FAU wins here but take all those points.
- Average Score For: 39.85
- Total Yards:
- Pass Yards: 208.69
- Rush Yards: 283.23
- Average Score Against: 24.23
- Total Yards: 408.31
- Pass Yards: 242.54
- Rush Yards: 165.77
Latest Boca Raton Bowl Betting Trends
- Akron is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
- Akron is 6-3 SU in its last 9 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Akron’s last 11 games
- Florida Atlantic is 7-2 ATS in its last 9 games
- Florida Atlantic is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Expert Prediction & Boca Raton Bowl Betting Pick
This is the first ever meeting between the schools. FAU will win fairly easily but not enough to cover that big number.