The 2019 Boca Raton Bowl will pit the American Athletic Conference and against Conference USA this season. SMU will face Florida Atlantic, playing on its home field, on Dec. 21 (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC). Here is the 2019 Boca Raton Bowl preview:
SMU Mustangs (10-2)
While the Mustangs started 8-0 and won their most games since 1984, losses to eventual AAC champion Memphis and at Navy after being up 21-10 at halftime, spoiled what was otherwise a special season in Dallas. When looking at the big picture, though, it was quite the impressive turnaround from the 5-7 experience from 2018.
Former Texas quarterback Shane Buechele (3,626 yards, 33 touchdown passes, nine interceptions) closed his collegiate career in grand fashion after things didn’t go as planned in Austin. Meanwhile, running back Xavier Jones (1,249 yards, 21 touchdowns) and receiver James Proche (102 receptions, 1,139 yards, 14 touchdowns) also enjoyed strong seasons.
Defensively, the Mustangs will need to play better in Florida after giving up consecutive games of at least 51 points in November. Paced by Patrick Nelson (12 sacks), however, their 50 recorded sacks are the most in the nation.
Playing in the 2019 Boca Raton Bowl for the first time, SMU is looking for its first bowl victory since 2012.
FAU Owls (10-3)
It’s been quite the season for the Florida Atlantic football program. The Owls enter the 2019 Boca Raton Bowl, on their home field, riding a six-game winning streak after beating UAB 49-6 to win their second Conference USA title in three years.
However, coach Lane Kiffin has bolted for the head coaching job at Ole Miss. FAU announced that it tabbed ex-Florida State boss Willie Taggart to be its next coach.
First things first, the Owls look to improve to 4-0 in bowl games since joining the FBS level. Quarterback Chris Robison (3,396 yards, 26 touchdown passes, six interceptions) is one of the nation’s more underrated passers while tight end Harrison Bryant (65 receptions, 1,004 yards, seven touchdowns) just won the Mackey Award.
Since allowing 93 points while opening the season with back-to-back losses against Ohio State and UCF, FAU has yielded an average of 17.9. The Owls have also held four opponents to seven or fewer points.
Kiffin’s decision to return to the SEC could be a mental hurdle for the Owls, but playing at home might give them a slight edge. Still, SMU is looking to end a successful season on a strong note after failing to win the AAC. Expect a high-scoring contest, and one the Mustangs will find a way to pull out.
SMU 45, FAU 43
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