Tuesday's Bowl Notes
December 18, 2017


Boca Raton Betting Preview (ESPN, 7:00 p.m. ET)
Akron vs. Florida Atlantic (-22.5, 63.5)


The Florida Atlantic Owls have been in the national spotlight all season long thanks to Lane Kiffin joining the school. It's almost remarkable that so many high-profile jobs have been filled without Kiffin getting signed in a year that he guided FAU to the Conference USA title. The Owls will wrap up their season at home in the Boca Raton Bowl against the Akron Zips on the second day of the bowl season on Tuesday, December 19.

Big Spread in Boca Raton

Florida Atlantic is being asked to lay a stunning 22.5-points against Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl at BookMaker.eu. Not only is that the biggest spread in a bowl game this season, but it's the biggest spread in any bowl game in the last decade. The highest spread on record in a bowl game since 2010 was at the Cotton Bowl in the 2012-13 bowl season. Oklahoma State was laying 17.5-points and beat Purdue 58-14.

Don't think that it's an absolute slam dunk that FAU wins this game outright either. Last year's biggest favorite, Colorado State against Idaho in the Potato Bowl, lost by 11 points as a 16-point favorite.

Teams that are favored by at least 14 points in the bowl season are 0-3 ATS over the course of the last two seasons. The last time a favorite of 14-points or more covered a spread was in the Foster Farms Bowl of 2014 when Stanford crushed Maryland 45-21.

Wiley Old Owls

Kiffin is a professional troll, and he knows exactly what the point spread is in every single game that he's coaching in.

The Owls delivered two of the most devastating beats of the entire season to bettors.

On November 3, Florida Atlantic hosted Marshall in a huge C-USA East tussle. The Owls were up 30-23 with just seconds remaining, and rather than punt the ball to Marshall, Kiffin instructed his punt unit to give up a safety.

Florida Atlantic was -6.5.

Three weeks later, the Owls were laying 24.5-points against Charlotte. Florida Atlantic was in front of the spread, leading 31-6 late in the third quarter. Charlotte punched in a touchdown, and the Owls proceeded to march the length of the field to get down to the 1-yard line in the late stages of the fourth quarter. The nation's No. 6 rushing offense couldn't get a single yard in four tries against the nation's No. 106-ranked rush defense.

Take out those two ATS defeats, and Florida Atlantic has covered every game it has played since September.

Having Zip for Fear

Terry Bowden's Zips have absolutely overcome challenges like you wouldn't believe all season long. Akron was picked to finish fourth in the MAC East amongst the coaches in the conference at the start of the season, and it looked for anything like that would be optimistic after the team started 1-3 with the one win coming against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

But perhaps we should have gotten a hint of things to come when the Zips only lost at Troy by five points as 17-point underdogs.

After a couple victories against bad MAC schools, Akron went on the road and played in a monsoon against Western Michigan. The Zips were 12.5-point dogs and won the game outright.

From there, Akron covered in an upset win over Buffalo and as 11-point dogs in a 24-14 loss to Miami-Ohio.

But the coup de grace came against Ohio in the de facto MAC East title game on November 14. The Zips were 14.5-point underdogs and won the game 37-34.

This Akron team finished with two double-digit upsets this year and went 5-0 ATS against double-digit spreads after starting with blowout losses to Penn State and Iowa State. Clearly, there isn't going to be an intimidation factor going on the road for the Boca Raton Bowl.