The Florida Atlantic Owls will host the Navy Midshipmen to start the 2017 season on Friday, Sept. 1st. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton and will be televised on ESPNU.
Oddsmakers currently have Navy listed anywhere from a 11.5 to 12.5 point favorite depending on the book. The line continues to move in favor of FAU, which originally opened as 14.5-pt dogs. The over/under for this contest is sitting at 70 points.
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Florida Atlantic vs Navy Vegas Odds & Game Preview
The Owls have finished with a 3-9 record each of the last 3 seasons. However, there’s a huge buzz surrounding this program going into 2017. That’s because FAU went out and hired Lane Kiffin as their new coach. Kiffin brought in Baylor assistant Kendal Briles to run his offense, while his brother (Chris) and dad (Monte) tag team the defense.
Kiffin steps into a great situation to have success right away. That’s because the Owls return 17 starters from last year. Keep in mind that this team wasn’t far off from a bowl game in 2016, as they had 4 losses by 6-points or less.
As expected Navy took a step back in 2016, though it wasn’t as big a drop-off as most expected. The Midshipmen had gone 11-2 in 2015, but returned a mere 7 starters (only 1 on offense). They opened the season 9-2 and surprised everyone by winning the AAC West Title.
Things went downhill from there. They suffered a 24-pt loss to Temple in the AAC title game, had a 14-game winning streak snapped in a 17-21 defeat to Army and lost 45-48 to La Tech in their bowl. The Midshipmen will go into their 10th season under Ken Niumatalolo with 12 starters returning from last year.
Free College Football Pick Against the Spread: Navy -11.5
This is one I’m probably going to pass on playing, at least right now. While I think Kiffin and his staff are going to get this program playing at a high level, I don’t love this matchup. I also think the public is all over Florida Atlantic because of the hire and the fact they added in JUCO quarterback De’Andre Johnson. He originally committed to Florida State and is from the hit Netflix series “Last Chance U.”
You also have to keep in mind that there’s a lot of changes being made on both sides of the ball. Chances are there’s going to be some kinks that need worked out and Navy is far from a pushover. Navy’s defense wasn’t great last year, but should be improved with 8 starters back. If they can get pressure on Johnson, I think FAU has a difficult time scoring enough points to keep this close.
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That’s because I don’t see the Owls’ defense being able to slow down the Midshipmen’s offensive attack. It’s no secret Navy wants to run the football down your throat. Last year FAU gave up 245 yards/game and 5.5 yards/carry against the run. While they have 8 starters back on D, they lost their best defensive linemen in Trey Hendrickson.
You might be thinking that Chris and Monte Kiffin will have enough time to prepare for Navy’s triple-option attack to slow it down. The thing is, you really can’t prepare for facing the triple-option in practice unless you have faced in an actual game in recent years. FAU’s players have little to no experience against it and will struggle to stop it.
Navy figures to put up 30+ points in this one and that’s important to note. Over the last two years, FAU is 0-10 ATS when they allow 28 or more points. On the flip side of this, the Midshipmen are an impressive 5-1 ATS as a road favorite the last two seasons and 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 games in September.