Florida Atl.

Sat, Dec 21
12:30 PM Pacific
Rotation: 211
Odds: Florida Atl. +8, Total: 64.5

Game Analysis

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Strong Opinion – Under (64.5) – Southern Methodist (-8)  34   FLORIDA ATLANTIC  24 

This game is being played in FAU’s home stadium but without FAU’s head coach Lane Kiffin, who left for the job at Ole Miss. DC Glenn Spencer will serve as interim head coach for this game with future coach Willie Taggart watching from a box, and I will make no adjustment for Kiffin being gone. FAU started the season getting crushed by two good teams (Ohio State and UCF) and have won 10 of 11 games since (all wins by double-digits) against all below average teams. However, on Friday afternoon Florida Atlantic released a long list of key players that were not going to play in this game and I think the market didn’t react enough to those key players missing this game.

FAU was just an average team on both sides of the ball during the regular season, as the owls have been 0.1 yards per play worse than average offensively (6.0 yppl against teams that would allow 6.1 yppl to an average team) and 0.1 yppl worse than average defensively (5.5 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.4 yppl against an average defense). However, the list of players missing this game include the Owls’ 4 most significant playmakers on offense and two of their best defensive players. The absence of top running back Malcom Davidson, who averaged 7.0 yards per rush, hurts the rushing attack significantly given that the other 3 running backs combined for just 4.5 ypr, and WR Deangelo Antoine has 146 yards on 8 reverses this season and he’s also out. The result is a projected decline of 0.74 yards per rushing play. Antoine is also the top wide receiver and also missing this game will be 1st-Team All-American and Mackey Aware winner TE Harrison Bryant, who lead the Owls in reception and receiving yards (1004), and WR Tavaris Harrison, who was third on the team in receiving yards. Those 3 pass-catchers were not only the top 3 in receiving yards but they were the top 3 on the team yards per target and combined for 2298 yards on 245 targets, which is 9.3 yards per target. The rest of the wide receivers and tight ends combined for 1028 yards on 153 targets (6.7 ypt) and the difference equates to 1.3 yards per pass play, which works out to more than 4 points given the 40 pass plays expected from FAU in this game. Overall, the Owls go from being projected to gain 438 yards at 5.4 yards per play to being projected to tally 357 yards at 4.4 yppl, which is a difference of about 6 points.

On the defensive side of the ball the Owls will be without top-tackler Akileis Leroy, who also had 7.5 sacks and 8 other tackles for loss, and DE Tim Bonner, who tallied 4 sacks and 7.5 total TFLs. The adjustments for those two players worked out to 0.2 yards per play, which is a bit more than a point.

SMU’s offense scored with great consistency this season with former Texas starter Shane Buechele running Sonny Dykes’ version of the Air Raid offense. The Mustangs averaged 43 points per game and scored 34 points or more in all but one game but they were only 0.5 yards per play better than average (6.2 yppl against teams that would allow 5.7 yppl to an average team). SMU scored more than their yards per play stats would project because they ran a lot of plays due to a combination of fast tempo and extending drives by converting on 4th down 21 times (in 29 attempts).

SMU was not as good in the compensated passing numbers over their final 5 games without big-play receiver Reggie Roberson Jr, who was injured early in the week 9 games against Houston and hasn’t played since. Roberson averaged 12.6 yards per target while the rest of the wide receivers combine to average a modest 8.0 YPT. Top receiver James Proche was double-teamed a lot more often without Roberson on the field and he averaged only 7.6 YPT in the regular season. Roberson makes a significant difference to the Mustangs aerial attack and his status for this game is unknown (he’s listed as questionable). My feeling is that he’s not going to play and if that is the case then my math projects 453 yards at 5.9 yards per play for SMU in this game.

The problem with Sonny Dykes is that he’s never had a good defense, but this year’s Mustangs are solid defensively, allowing 5.6 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.8 yppl against an average defense. That unit has an advantage of FAU’s offense and the Owls are projected to gain 438 yards at 5.4 yppl.

Overall, the math now favors SMU by 9.9 points and a total of 57.7 points, which assumes Roberson is out, accounts for the strong wind (17 mph with gusts up to 30 mph) and has now been adjusted to take into account how often and how successfully Dykes goes for it on 4th down rather than punting, which adds a few points to SMU’s scoring. If Roberson does play (and is 100%) then the math would favor SMU by 12.9 points with 59.6 total points. I’ll consider the Under a Strong Opinion at 64 points or higher.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • SMU
  • Florida Atl.


  • Run Plays 33.9 38.5
  • Run Yards 144.3 184.3
  • YPRP 4.8 5.4


  • Pass Comp 24.1 20.9
  • Pass Att 40.6 34.6
  • Comp % 59.4% 60.4%
  • Pass Yards 305.1 255.5
  • Sacks 2.2 3.4
  • Sack Yards 17.4 21.7
  • Sack % 5.1% 8.9%
  • Pass Plays 42.8 38.0
  • Net Pass Yards 287.7 233.8
  • YPPP 6.7 6.2


  • Total Plays 76.7 76.5
  • Total Yards 449.4 439.8
  • YPPL 5.9 5.8


  • Int 0.7 1.0
  • Int % 1.8% 2.8%
  • Fumbles 0.5 0.8
  • Turnovers 1.2 1.8
  • Points 43.0 31.8
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