Florida Atlatic Owls Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
I acknowledge that I am part of the problem. Lane Kiffin is an attention whore, a product of the social media age, and by most indications not a very likeable guy. But you can't look away. And by talking about him and paying far more attention to him and his Florida Atlantic team than the Owls have ever had, or ever deserve, we are just feeding the Kiffin monster - and all the guys who will follow in his footstep. Kiffin is gross, but unfortunately he is not boring -- so here we are, not only previewing a team in a conference that no one actually cares about beyond the geographical footprint, but actually looking forward to it. I fear for our society.
2017 in a Nutshell
Kiffin rolled into Boca Raton to set up his circus last year, and he brought Kendall Briles along to run the offense - just in case Kiffin didn't bring enough scandal along on his own. Early on it looked like it was going to be a disaster and a short stay for the two lightning rods. They got blown out by Navy at home in the opener and then were outclassed by Wisconsin. They beat Bethune-Cookman but then lost at a Buffalo team that hasn't mattered since before Turner Gill took the Kansas job. But then something changed - in a big way. The schedule got a little softer as they headed into C-USA play, and the message started getting through. They ran the regular-season table, beat up on North Texas for a second time to win the conference championship, and then humiliated Akron by 43 in their bowl game. That last result has a bit of an asterisk beside it - it's a slight advantage for a team from Boca Raton to play in the Boca Raton Bowl - but it is still very impressive. So now they have to prove that they can build on the last 10 games and not repeat the first four.
Key Additions and Departures
We have to start with the coaching staff, because it's too funny not to. Kendall Briles moved on to Houston, so Kiffin had to figure out what name could fill those shoes and bring enough of a negative connotation to fit in with the Owls. The answer was obvious, so Charlie Weis Jr. is now running the show. And on defense Kiffin's brother Chris was coordinator last year, but he has joined the 49ers, so Tony Pecoraro takes over after two years running an aggressive offense for conference rivals Southern Miss.
Jason Driskel, the QB for much of last year, has retired to focus on academics, and Daniel Parr, who also started some games, transferred to Duquesne. So, new faces are around - and in a compelling race. De'Andre Johnson was at Florida State before running into legal trouble after punching a woman. He has resurfaced at the NCAA's own Last Chance U and will compete for the job with Chris Robison, a high-profile Oklahoma signee who was kicked off that team for twice violating team rules. Robison has already been suspended once this spring, so this race is clearly volatile. Devin Singletary ran for nearly 2,000 yards last year and is back for more, so the running back situation is just fine. They return some depth at wide receiver, including the top receiver but not the next two, and have brought in a couple of solid transfers, so they should be okay. And while they lost three starting linemen, they played with a rotation last year, so they have experience left, they added grad transfer Junior Diaz of Tulane, who can step in immediately, and have more help on the way. They should be fine up front.
The defensive line was a work in progress last year, but all the starters are back, and they have continued to supplement the depth, so it should be improved this year. Pecoraro is particularly aggressive up front, which should help this unit as well. All of the starting linebackers and all but one starter in the secondary are back as well, so this defense has a chance to take a big step forward from last year.
Biggest Area of Concern
Both quarterbacks are tremendously talented and athletic, but neither has been a model citizen. Their ability to thrive in the spotlight, or to deal with the frustration of not starting, will define how well this team does.
Florida Atlantic Owls Schedule Analysis
You can't accuse the team of cowardly scheduling. They open up by playing Oklahoma in Norman. Then they host a very quirky Air Force team. Bethune-Cookman is again a gimme, but then they travel to play UCF fresh off their unbeaten season. The goal for the nonconference schedule has to be at least one more win than last year. From there the conference schedule isn't much more complicated than last year. They have to travel to Marshall and North Texas, but they have a chance to be improved on both sides of the ball. It's no worse a schedule than last year, and they swept it last season.
2018-19 Florida Atlantic Owls Betting Odds and Trends
The Owls are the strong -115 favorite to win the C-USA, well ahead of second-choice Marshall at +450. They are +90000 to win the national title, so you will be really rich if you bet this and the impossible happens. But it won't. The season win total sits at 8.5, with the "under" mildly favored.
2018-19 Florida Atlantic Owls Predictions and College Football Picks
The win total seems slightly pessimistic to me. They can win two of their first four - with Air Force being the second win. Then seven or eight conference wins again seems reasonable. So, 10 wins is the optimistic target, but nine seems quite realistic. Unless their quarterbacks both end up in jail, that is - which is a possibility that can't be ruled out.
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