Florida Atlantic ripped apart a disappointing SMU team in a Cheribundi Boca Raton blowout. What are the five things that matter?
Florida Atlantic vs. SMU: 5 Things That Matter
Final Score: Florida Atlantic 52, SMU 28
CFN Prediction: SMU 41, Florida Atlantic 28
Line: SMU -3, o/u: 70.5
5. We all came to see an explosive team, and the other showed up
SMU came into the game sixth in the nation and No. 1 in the American Athletic in scoring, was ninth in total offense, and with a pass rush that was No. 1 in the nation in sacks and third in tackles for loss.
Florida Atlantic came in with a strong offense that finished 33rd in the nation in yards, but it wasn’t anything like SMU’s. Throw in the Owl offensive line that was a disaster at keeping good defenses out of the backfield, and this was supposed to be a showcase moment for the Mustangs.
SMU came up with one sack and just six tackles for loss.
Florida Atlantic’s lines dominated from the start, the passing game was more effective, the running game more productive, and the SMU offense that was a big enough deal to get the national spotlight in an 8-0 start was outplayed.
4. Chris Robison’s interesting finish
It’s been an interesting ride for FAU’s starting quarterback.
He started out at Oklahoma, came to FAU, was suspended for a stretch, threw a ton of picks last year – 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions – was questionable to be the main man this year, and …
He led the Owls to the Conference USA title and to the bowl and threw seven touchdown passes in the final two games, but he struggled with is accuracy.
SMU’s Shane Buechele was supposed to be the steady QB option, but Robison had the better performance hitting 27-of-37 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 28 yards – and got the bowl win.
3. American Athletic Conference … really?
No, American Athletic Conference. You really couldn’t lose this bowl game.
After going 2-5 in last year’s bowl season, the conference needed to get off to a hot start to help push forward the whole Power 6 agenda. It’s fine to have one of the top teams lose a bowl game, but …
It’s hard to be taken seriously when one of the key teams gets blown away by a Conference USA program, even the champion.
Bowl games might be exhibitions, but get on the wrong side of them, and it reshapes the narrative. Worse yet, it shapes the preseason beliefs.
SMU was supposed to be one of the American Athletic Conference’s shining stars going into this bowl run, and …
2. SMU … really?
The team was 8-0 going into October before suffering a perfectly acceptable loss at Memphis in the Saturday night showcase game. The other loss was on the road at Navy to finish 10-2 with one of the most consistent offenses in the country, and …
It was totally dominated.
The program hasn’t won a bowl game since the 2012 season, and now Sonny Dykes is just 1-3 nine seasons and a bowl – he took over SMU early in 2017 – in these post-season things.
It was a flop of a performance, but this was …
1. Florida Atlantic’s shining moment
Give credit to Florida Atlantic for being better than SMU, but also give credit for rising up and rocking despite the coaching change and with the suspensions. The team was sharp, played with energy, and it closed out with a second 11-win season in the last three seasons.
Yes, it was a home game, and yes, this was a Conference USA champ that closed out the regular season with a dominant run. But the team played with a purpose and was brilliant against a team that – again – went 10-2 with two close losses on the road.
And now FAU is going to have a reputation to live up to. Four bowl games, four bowl wins, three of them in blowouts.
Willie Taggart, your table is ready.
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl History
Dec. 21, 2019 Florida Atlantic 52, SMU 28
Dec. 18, 2018 UAB 37, Northern Illinois 13
Dec. 19, 2017 Florida Atlantic 50, Akron 3
Dec. 20, 2016 WKU 51, Memphis 31
Dec. 22, 2015 Toledo 32 Temple 17
Dec. 23, 2014 Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23