Home for The Holidays
Florida Atlantic University's football season officially came to an end Sunday when the Owls, who finished the season 6-6 and bowl eligible for the first time since 2008, were not extended a bowl invitation.
"Thank you to the 2013 Florida Atlantic University football team for inspiring our university and community this season," said Pat Chun, FAU's director of athletics. "We will forever be indebted to our seniors for raising the standard of excellence within all aspects of our program. The 2014 and future teams will build off of the lessons learned from this season."
The Owls held their 2013 Senior Banquet last Friday. The remarks including the team's resiliency and ability to battle through adversity by tally four-consecutive victories to finish the year with a 6-6 record and eligible for a bowl game.
The bowl eligibility goal was accomplished in part to a defense that is currently ranked as high as No. 11 nationally, led by D'Joun Smith, who ended the regular-season No. 2 nationally in interceptions. Offensively, the Owls shattered the team's previous team rushing totals by more than 400 yards, led by sophomore quarterback Jaquez Johnson, who is ranked among the nation's top-10 quarterbacks for rushing yards.
FAU's resurgence onto the national scene was led by Interim Head Coach Brian Wright, who took the helm of a team, that was 2-6 on the season and was dealt a coaching transition, the week it was preparing for Tulane, Conference USA's Eastern Division leader at game time.
At halftime of the Tulane, Wright knew the Owls were "on the edge of a cliff" and could go either way. Trailing 17-7 he asked them to "hold the rope," signifying taking care of each other and doing it together. The FAU defense would hold Tulane scoreless in the second half while the offense came alive to outscore Tulane 27-0 after the break to capture the game 34-17. In fact, FAU outscored its final four opponents 151-40.
"For our seniors, team, and University I am very disappointed that we were not selected for a bowl game," said Brian Wright, FAU's interim head coach. "I believe based on the finish to our season, we deserved to be one of the 70 teams selected for post-season play. It is now the standard and responsibility of this program, to leave no doubt to the bowl selection committees by winning enough football games throughout the entire season to guarantee our post-season opportunities."
The Owls are in the midst of semester final exams and will maintain that schedule. Thursday is graduation. As many as 13 FAU seniors are expected to participate in the ceremony.
The Conference USA Bowl Game line-up was announced as the following:
R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL (New Orleans, La.)
Saturday, December 21
Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (ESPN) 8 p.m. CST
BEEF `O' BRADY'S BOWL (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Monday, December 23
East Carolina vs. Opponent TBA (ESPN) 1 p.m. CST
MILITARY BOWL (Annapolis, Md.)
Friday, December 27
Marshall vs. ACC Selection (ESPN) 1:30 p.m. CST
BELL HELICOPTER ARMED FORCES BOWL (Fort Worth, Texas)
Monday, December 30
Middle Tennessee vs. Navy (ESPN) 10:45 a.m. CST
AUTO ZONE LIBERTY BOWL (Memphis, Tenn.)
Tuesday, December 31
Rice vs. SEC Selection (ESPN) 3:00p CST
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL (Dallas, Texas)
Wednesday, January 1
North Texas vs. Opponent TBA (ESPN U) 11 a.m. CST