FAU football put the finishing touches on their best season to date at the FBS level with a 50-3 victory over Akron in the 2017 Boca Raton Bowl before an announced attendance of 25,912 and a national television audience.
"You donít win bowl games 50-3. Sitting here one year and one week ago, no one would believe this other than maybe me. It is just awesome to see. I am proud of these players", said Head Coach Lane Kiffin.
The Owls kept the bowl market captive as the only contest on for the evening and didn't disappoint, as the running game was successful as usual, defense was stellar, and a healthy dose of pass plays provided setup spark.
Despite a slow start and somewhat sluggish performance early, the contest was never really in doubt as Florida Atlantic (11-3) amassed a 21-3 lead in the first half enabled by successful fourth down conversions.
They built upon that mark throughout the second half while the Zips failed to contain, score, or make up any ground.
FAU out gained Akron on the night, 582-146. The Owl defense had 11 tackles for loss, five sacks and held the Akron rushing attack to 1.9 yards per carry. The Zips offense managed just 11 first downs and was 3-of-15 on 3rd down plays.
"Really just an unbelievable day,Ē Kiffin said. "You donít just come to the FAU and win 11 games. These kids arenít even playing close games. Itís one thing to play a close game, go to triple overtime, but these kids just dominate everyone they play."
With the win, FAU remains perfect in their bowl appearances, adding to previous wins in 2007 (New Orleans Bowl, Memphis) and 2008 (Motor City Bowl, Central Michigan).
The eleven wins amassed for the 2017 season is the most at the FBS level of play and ties the program mark set back in 2003 during a historic FCS run for the Owls in just their third year.
"To win 11 games, and a 10 game winning streak, this has got to be the hottest team in the country", asserted Kiffin.
Conference USA Most Valuable Player and the Owls' all-time career rushing touchdown leader Devin Singletary ran for 124 yards and 3TD, surpassing Charles Pierre's 77 yard showing in 2008 for the most yards rushing in a Bowl contest.
Singletary also set a new Conference USA record for most rushing touchdowns in the season with 32 after his game efforts were complete, and moved into third place all-time in FBS history, trailing just Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State, 88') and Monte Ball (Wisconsin, 11').
Signal caller Jason Driskel (photo) produced an efficient 19-of-25 showing for 270 yards and 2TD while adding 2TD on foot as well. Driskel, who was named the game's Offensive MVP, also ran for 78 yards.
Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who had 13 tackles, 2.5 for a loss and a sack, was chosen as Defensive MVP.
Senior receiver Kalib Woods had a game best 79 yards on four catches, while Kamrin Solomon and Willie Wright added 71 each.
The coaching staff will now turn their focus towards completing the 2018 recruiting class, and soon thereafter Spring Practice.
"We hope to sign a lot of great players tomorrow…I think it's a great place to come", Kiffin said immediately after the contest.
The Owls will look to bring in between 22-24 new players depending upon roster fluctuations.
Off the field on Tuesday FAU apparently received more good news towards that effort when Kiffin was reported to have agreed to a 10 year contract, eclipsing the original deal which still had four years remaining.
"They came to me with it, and we're very appreciative of it", commented Kiffin on FAU's offer. "We're changing the way people think."
The Owls will officially begin their second season under Kiffin on September 1st, 2018 when the team travels to Norman Oklahoma for the first ever meeting against the Sooners.
Post Game with Coach Kiffin: POST GAME 2017: Boca Raton Bowl - Lane Kiffin - FAU Owl's Nest
- The teams traded FG misses of 44 yards (FAU) and 38 yards (Akron) to start the game
- With Akron nine yards from scoring, Hunter Snyder had a sack for an 11 yard loss
- The Owls converted a 4th & 2 from their own 29 yard line in their second possession
- Willie Wright then converted a 4th and goal for FAU's first score and a 7-0 lead
- FAU scored 156 points in the first quarter for 2017, first in the FBS
- The Owls forced Akron to a FG after halting a first and goal situation
- Jason Driskel converted the Owls' 3rd 4th down attempt for a three yard score
- Kamrin Solomon hauled in a 63 yard catch from Driskel as the first half wound down
- Singletary set a C-USA record for touchdowns (30) two plays later to give FAU a 21-3 lead
- The defense came up big again on 4th down near midfield to halt the Zips opening 2nd half drive
- Singletary spun his way into the end zone for the Owls' fourth 4th down conversion and his 2nd TD
- FAU forced just the first three-and-out of the game at the 9:13 mark of the 3rd quarter
- Driskel rushed for 25 yards on 2nd and 18 after a spectacular lead-block from Gregory Howell
- Wright scored his 2nd TD, and converted a 2PT attempt, to give the Owls a 36-3 lead late in the 3rd
- Driskel connected with Kalib Woods for 43 yards just prior to the period's end
- Driskel later faked a hand off to Wright before scampering for another score and 43-3 advantage
- The Owls connected on 4th down again to set up Singletary's 12th straight 100 yard effort
- Singletary carried the ball into the end zone for his 3rd score and made it a 50-3 affair
- Pending UCFís Peach Bowl result the Owls will end the year with either the 1st or 2nd longest win streak in FBS
- Azeez Al-Shaair moved into the all-time lead for career tackles on the night
- The 47-point margin is largest in FBS history, and 11 wins matches all-time program record