Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl
Akron (7-6) vs. Florida Atlantic (10-3)
Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET, Boca Raton, Florida (ESPN)
Florida Atlantic -22.5, O/U: 64
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE
Akron: The Zips reeled off three straight wins after a 1-3 start. A win against Ohio on the season’s penultimate week meant a MAC divisional title for Akron and a rematch with Toledo, which beat Akron 48-21 in the regular season. The MAC title game didn’t go much differently. Toledo won the conference title with a 45-28 win.
Florida Atlantic: After starting the season 1-3 as well, Lane Kiffin’s Owls rolled through Conference USA. FAU has won nine straight games and just one – a five-point win over Marshall – was within one possession. You can make the case for FAU as a top-25 team without laughing.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kato Nelson, QB, Akron: It feels like Thomas Woodson has been at Akron forever. And 2017 has not been a senior season to remember for him. The four-year starter was sidelined for three games in November and Akron went 2-1 in his absence as Nelson took over. Nelson, from nearby Hollywood, Florida, is the likely starter Tuesday, though Woodson should get a sendoff in some capacity. He’s done enough for Akron over his career to deserve that.
Devin Singletary, RB, FAU: Singletary’s season might be the most unheralded in college football. The sophomore rushed for 1,021 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman and has obliterated those statistics in 2017. He’s carried the ball 275 times for 1,796 yards and 29 touchdowns. Yes, 29 scores. He’s scored in every game but FAU’s season-opener vs. Navy and has multiple touchdowns in 10 of the Owls’ 13 games. It will be a big surprise if he doesn’t score at least twice on Tuesday night.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Because Lane Kiffin will probably try some crazy offensive schemes. Kiffin’s offense broke the 40-point mark in six Conference-USA games this season. You should also watch to see if FAU covers the spread at the end of the game. Earlier this season, Kiffin joked about his team costing some gamblers money. It’d be very Kiffin to have his team score a late touchdown to go up 24 points. Especially in a bowl game at FAU’s home stadium.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE: Florida Atlantic would get a 10th-straight win. For context, no Florida Atlantic team had ever won 10 games in a season until 2017. Akron, meanwhile, is looking for its second bowl win in program history and to tie a program-best eight wins in a season. The previous bowl win and eight-win season came two seasons ago when Akron finished 8-5 after a Potato Bowl win.
Nick: Florida Atlantic 41, Akron 24
Sam: Florida Atlantic 48, Akron 17
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