Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl: Akron Zips at Florida Atlantic Owls
Can Zips Control Overpowering Owl Rush Attack?
Our Akron plays Florida Atlantic 2017 Boca Raton Bowl pick offer the Owls at anywhere from minus 22.0 to 23.5 and the over/under at 65.0. The Akron Zips (7-6) finished first in the Mid-American East but lost the championship game to Toldeo 45-28. In their final five regular-season games, the Zips were 3-2. The Florida Atlantic Owls (10-3) won the Conference USA title, beating North Texas 41-17 in the championship game. They ran over most of the conference this year and are on a nine-game win streak.
Akron’s defense is not bad, as they are limiting teams to 26.3 PPG, but it’s doubtful they will be able to contain a dynamic offense like that of the Owls. The Zips are allowing opponents 432.2 YPG, including 197.2 on the ground. They do have some impressive players on D, including juniors Ulysees Gilbert III (127 TCKLs, 4.0 SCKs, 8.5 TFL), at linebacker, and Jordan George (67 TCKLs, 5 INTs, 3 PD), at deep back. The Akron offense is generating just 23.6 PPG and that’s what you may expect from them in this game. It’s doubtful they’ll put more points on the board than their average. On offense, senior QB Thomas Woodson (57.2 COMP%, 14 TDs, 9 INTs) will most likely start. He certainly has a group of accomplished receivers to toss to, including junior wideout Kwadarrius Smith (31 REC, 21.4 AVG, 7 TDs). RBs Manny Morgan and Van Edwards Jr., each of whom have over 340 yards rushing this season with an average of 4.0 and 3.7 YPG respecitvely, will get the majority of the ball carries.
- Defense needs to make some big plays
- Balance attack by offense is needed
- Big challenge is controlling Owls’ ground game
Florida Atlantic Overview
The Owls certainly have some standout players on defense, including the top-three team leaders in tackles, LB Azeez Al-Shaair (133 TCKs, 1.5 SCKs, 7.5 TFL), LB Rashad Smith (89 TCKLs, 5.0 SCKs, 10.5 TFL), and safety Jalen Young (70 TCKLs, 7 INTs, 1 FF). Although they offer up over 408 yards per game to opponent offenses, Florida Atlantic’s offense is generating 491.1 YPG and 39.8 PPG. They have an especially effective ground attack that has been good for 283.2 YPG. In terms of offense, it’s quite simple. Sophomore RB Devin Singletary has accumulated close to 1,800 yards on the ground this season while averaging 6.5 YPA. He’s scored 29 rushing TDs. He’s backed up by Gregory Howell Jr., who’s averging 6.7 YPA and has five TDs and QB Jason Driskel, who’s rushed for an average of 5.1 YPA and 6 TDs. Driskel has an completion rate of 65.6% and has tossed 13 scoring passes and 4 picks.
- Dynamic ground attack
- Solid QB
- Some standout D players
Three Boca Raton Bowl Takeaways
Our Akron plays Florida Atlantic 2017 Boca Raton Bowl pick offers this trio of takeaways-
- Akron needs to contain Owl rush attack
- Florida Atlantic D must keep Woodson off-balance
- Question- can Zips D outlast punishing FA ground game?
Our Boca Raton Bowl Picks
The point spread is huge. But this does look like one of those games where the favored team has earned it. That means our Akron plays Florida Atlantic 2017 Boca Raton Bowl pick is the Owls at -22.0. We also like the over at 65.0. We think the Owls will be good for close to 50 points and the Zips for about 24.