Photo Credit: FAU Athletics
Although most out of conference games for college football teams are determined years in advance, every fan has an opinion on which games their teams should play.
For Florida Atlantic, most schedules follow a similar format. FAU always plays a marquee Power 5 opponent, like Ohio State from last season. That game is often played on the road. The Owls will play an FCS opponent at home, like Stony Brook or Wagner. FAU will finally close their season with two Group of 5 games — one on the road and one at home. Last season, the combination was away against Ball State and at home against UCF.
Using this criterion, along with common sense, the potential for a strong non-conference schedule with winnable games is possible. The question, however, becomes what that perfect and realistic schedule is.
We use our imagination below:
Florida State – Away
Of the three Power 5 programs in the state of Florida, FAU has played all of them except for Florida State. Located 437 miles away from FAU’s campus, Doak Campbell Stadium would offer an opportunity for FAU fans to travel and watch the Owls take on a marquee program.
Under head coach Willie Taggart, who now coaches at FAU, the Seminoles largely struggled. Taggart finished his time in Tallahassee with a 9-12 record and failed to defeat Florida in either year. Now in Boca Raton, a non-conference game against Florida State would offer a chance at revenge for Taggart.
Florida A&M – Home
A realistic non-conference schedule requires an FCS opponent and Florida A&M is arguably the best option in the state. Last season, the Rattlers finished first in the MEAC conference with a 9-2 record. With a strong program like Florida A&M, FAU would have a challenge but still likely win.
FAU and Florida A&M have only met once, in 2004, when the Owls defeated the Rattlers 38-8 in Tallahassee.
Appalachian State- Away
Welcome to Boone, North Carolina, home of the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Since making the switch to FBS football in 2014, the Mountaineers have become one of the best Group of 5 teams in the country. Under head coaches Scott Satterfield and Eli Drinkwitz, App State has won five consecutive bowl games.
Off the field, few atmospheres compare to Kidd Brewer Stadium. In 2019, the Mountaineers averaged 24,670 people over their six home games, which led the Sun Belt. App State also led the Sun Belt in attendance in 2016 and 2017, when the Mountaineers averaged 26,153 and 25,787 fans respectively.
A game against App State would not be an easy one and there would be challenges for the Owls, but it would have the potential to be nationally televised.
South Florida – Home
The Owls are set to host South Florida in their 2020 regular season and the game makes sense. Although The American is tougher than the Conference USA, FAU would at least have a shot against USF. The future looks promising for USF with new head coach Jeff Scott, but the short-term will still hold questions, especially after finishing with a 4-8 record in 2019.
Like FSU, a game against USF offers story lines. Not only did Taggart coach USF in the past, but the Bulls hired former FAU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr. to take on the same roles at USF. A home game against FAU would offer their returns to Boca Raton, where both saw success.