Florida Atlantic closed out its amazing season with a blowout win over Akron in the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl. Here are five things that matter.
2017 Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl: Florida Atlantic 50, Akron 3
5. The Ten Year Plan
It’s the right move, even if it doesn’t work out. Does anyone really expect Lane Kiffin to stay at Florida Atlantic throughout the life of his ten year contract extension? Of course not, but with Early Signing Day coming up, and with the big bowl game to play, the announcement of the move made it seem like there’s some stability to the program. Fiscally responsible? Whatever – the optics look good for a school trying to build up the football program into a consistent player.
4. All of a sudden, Conference USA is looking solid
With North Texas and Western Kentucky losing the first two bowls of the season, it looked like Conference USA was in for a dud – ant then Marshall ran past Colorado State and Middle Tennessee beat Arkansas State. But this was the one the league needed to have. It was the shot for the conference’s bright, shiny champion to show off, and it did it and then some with a terrific performance against a team that really wasn’t that bad this year. Really.
3. The Akron offense didn’t work, but …
Give all the credit to a fired up FAU defense that played at a different level. The defensive front owned the Akron backfield allowing just 69 rushing yards, came up with 146 yards of total offense, and totally dominated throughout. Granted, the Akron quarterback situation has been spotty late in the year – Kato Nelson completed just 9-of-15 passes for 80 yards – but the attack didn’t have a chance. This was the type of energized defense the Owls spent all season trying to create. However …
2. This was exactly how the FAU offense is supposed to work
The running game didn’t do anything different – it continued to be unstoppable.
The only way FAU was going to lose this was to screw up. QB Jason Driskel completed 19-of-25 passes for 270 yards and two scores, and he ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Devin Singletary was actually kept under wraps a bit – for him – with only a few big runs, but he finished with 124 yards and three scores.
The big runs opened up the deep pass plays, the offense overcame the third down conversion problems by hitting on five of six fourth down tries, and the 50 hung up on the board was a big moment for Florida Atlantic football and …
1. Lane Kiffin
That’s how you energize a career.
Lane Kiffin became a sort of punchline when it came to coaching job openings, and he’s been more than happy to play along. He knows more than anyone else all the drama surrounding his career, but he got another chance to show what he could do. One 11-win season later, and now he’s a hot name again.
And he did this at Florida Atlantic.
Fearless and brash, his offense kept going for it on fourth downs, it kept on producing, and overall, it turned in the exact type of bowl performance coaches can only dream of. That, and a Conference USA title, and a buzz around the football program, and it’s all been everything the program and school could’ve possibly have asked for.
And it’s been everything Kiffin could’ve dreamed of.