Florida Atlantic Could Be a Handful
There are a few ingredients that are often common to teams that beat Nebraska. You could start with a dual-threat quarterback. The Owls' Jacquez Johnson is coming off a season where he rushed for more than 70 yards a game with 10 rushing touchdowns in addition to an average of over 170 yards passing per game with 12 passing scores. And there's more.
Even in the best of times, say 1996, a team with standouts at defensive tackle caused there share of problems. FAU sports a quality tandem in Brandin Bryant and Trevon Coley. Linebacker Andrae Kirk returns as the Florida Atlantic's leading tackler and defensive MVP from a year ago. Cornerback D'Joun Smith was a terror in the secondary with 7 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 20 passes defended. The Owls gave up an average of just 10 points per game down the stretch as they comfortably won 4 games straight to end the 2013 season.
Offensively, FAU compliments Johnson with tall wideout William Dukes who had 6 touchdown catches. Jay Warren was their top backup at running back a year ago and averaged nearly 5 yards per carry. Braden Lyons is an outstanding offensive lineman as well. Florida Atlantic also has an outstanding punter in Sean Kelly, who pinned opponents inside their 20 more than a third of the time.
Put it all together and it doesn't look like a cakewalk for Nebraska. The Huskers are a 23-point favorite in the game, but that seems more like a statement about the lack of respect that FAU gets from the betting public than a fair analysis of their overall ability. Given the setting, you expect NU to prevail. No one should be surprised, however, if the game winds up closer than 3 touchdowns.