FAU May Be Home in Boca Raton Bowl, but Akron Will Cover Big Number

boca raton bowl

Jason Lake

Thursday, December 7, 2017 8:30 PM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 8:30 PM GMT

The Florida Atlantic Owls have been a tremendous college football pick with Lane Kiffin at the helm. They’re gigantic home faves against the Akron Zips at the Boca Raton Bowl.

Free NCAAF Pick: Akron +23Best Line Offered: The Greek

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Akron Zips vs. Florida Atlantic Owls

It’s better to rule in heaven than to serve in hell. At this time last year, Lane Kiffin was the offensive co-ordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide, working under Nick Saban, but Kiffin was also on the verge of taking the top job with the Florida Atlantic Owls. Saban gave that transition a kick-start when he fired Kiffin just before the National Championship Game; Saban wanted more rushing, Kiffin wanted more passing, so down came the ax.

One year later, the Owls (10-3 SU, 9-4 ATS) are the champions of Conference USA – and they’re doing it on the ground. FAU ranks seventh in the nation in rushing efficiency, according to the S&P+ rankings at Football Outsiders. And the Owls have already steamed from –17.5 to –22.5 on the NCAAF odds board for the Boca Raton Bowl, with the Akron Zips (7-6 SU, 9-4 ATS) supplying the opposition on Tuesday, Dec. 19. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

Can’t Read My Boca Face

Conveniently enough, the Boca Raton Bowl is held at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, so the Owls will have home-field advantage in this one. It’s the first time they’ve made it to this particular bowl game, which is owned by ESPN and started play in 2014. Unfortunately for Kiffin’s crew, they play minus-1.30 PAE (Points Above Expectation) in Boca Raton, according to ESPN’s Brad Edwards and Seth Walder. But their numbers were compiled before Kiffin’s arrival; FAU went 5-2 SU and ATS at home this year.

The Zips are clearly outmatched in this game. They’re No. 100 out of the 130 FBS teams on the F/+ Combined Ratings at Football Outsiders, while the Owls are way up there at No. 17, just behind the Stanford Cardinal. However, ESPN’s Football Power Index projects the Owls to win 80.7 percent of the time, which works out to around –12 according to Wizard of Odds.

Does Akron really belong in our college football picks, though? This is a classic letdown situation after the Zips lost the MAC title game to the Toledo Rockets in ugly fashion – although they did cover as 20.5-point underdogs in their 45-28 loss. That makes the Zips 5-1 ATS this year as double-digit dogs. We’ll bite the bullet and recommend Akron for a small bet, but consider waiting until closer to kick-off for a better price, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

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