Opening day excitement turned to disappointment after a 28-0 first quarter, and remained, as Florida Atlantic dropped their inaugural game in the second year of the Lane Kiffin era with a 63-14 loss to #7 Oklahoma.
The contest narrowly avoided becoming the worst setback in program history (61-10 #11 Louisville 2005) as the Sooners took a knee to close, forsaking what would have been a highly probable scoring opportunity at the Owl's 29 yard line and over three minutes to play.
"So, we're 0-1. We played as bad as you can play, like I told the players. That's discouraging, offense, defense, and special teams", said Head Coach Lane Kiffin.
With a new defensive scheme and coordinator in place, FAU surrendered a concerning 650 yards of offense to the Sooners, with 316 coming on the ground and 334 through the air.
"We didn't score until the second half is ridiculous, and to yield 650 yards is ridiculous", Kiffin said. "But I'd be shocked if there was a better team in the country than what we saw today."
"Obviously we knew that they were very good, and that's just what it was, they outplayed us", said running back Devin Singletary.
The Owls struggled in the first quarter altogether, with a rash of penalties thwarting offensive efforts. Things wouldn't really get any better until late in the third quarter when Singletary (photo) broke a 56-0 affair with a five yard rushing score.
After the Sooners (1-0) answered, Kerrith Whyte notched the second Owl rushing TD, this time from seven yards out, for the game's final score.
With the quarterback decision not being announced until just before kick-off, all three signal callers eventually saw action in the contest. Chris Robison (15-26, 157 YDS) earned the start, but struggled with accuracy at times, particularly in the long game. Rafe Peavey entered the game to replace Robison at the onset of the fourth period, and was 2-for-3 for 24 yards making an exit after tossing an interception on his third attempt as an Owl. De'Andre Johnson took over on the Owls' ensuing possession, and quickly showed his footwork while rushing for 8, 13, and 6 yards consecutively.
Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson was the only player to reach 100 yards on the ground, tallying that mark exactly behind five attempts, to go along with a pair of touchdowns.
The Owls may have lost the game, but they did earn a $1.2M payout in the process and may have also cost Oklahoma their back-up quarterback after a tackle into the Sooner sideline sent him sliding into a training cart and ended his play for the afternoon.
Florida Atlantic will now turn their attention to Air Force, and the customary military triple option they will present. Improvement on both sides of the ball will have to be made immediately to be competitive.
"We've just go to to back to work, we've got the same record that we started with last year", said Kiffin. "Get ready for another difficult opponent in a different way."
"We're going to learn from it, we're going to digest it, and we're going to keep moving forward", Singletary said. "We got punched in the mouth today, it's do or die."
- Robison was the first freshman to start a season opener since Rusty Smith started the 2006 opener vs. Clemson.
- Freshman Sebastian Riella punted six times with a 38 yard average and a long of 50 yards.
- Riella's other attempt was blocked and returned for a touchdown.
- Senior linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and senior defensive lineman Ernest Bagner recorded the season’s first tackle for a loss.
- OLB Rashad Smith was the leading tackler with 9 total tackles and tied three other Owls with 3 solo efforts.
- Singletary was held below 100 rushing yards for the first time since Wisconsin Sept. 9, 2017.
- Each team had 14 redzone points, with all of the Sooner's other scores coming off of big plays.
- The Owls edged the Sooners in sacks 3-2.
- 86,402 fans were on hand to watch the contest.
POST GAME 2018: Oklahoma - Lane Kiffin - FAU Owl's Nest