No coach Lane Kiffin and four starters for FAU, no problem against SMU in Boca Raton Bowl

No coach Lane Kiffin and four starters for FAU, no problem against SMU in Boca Raton Bowl

The Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl featured two teams meeting for the first time. The Southern Methodist University Mustangs were visiting the Florida Atlantic University Owls.

The Owls were without keys players All-America tight end Harrison Bryant, who wasn’t expected to participate and had been ill in recent days anyway. Three starters — top receivers Deangelo Antoine and Tavaris Harrison, along with middle linebacker Akileis Leroy, all suspended for academic reasons.

One last thing, their head coach Lane Kiffin was not at FAU Stadium either.

Offensive most valuable player, Chris Robison passed for 305 yards, and two touchdowns and the Owls scored two touchdowns late in the first half to dominate SMU 52-28 in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl on Saturday night.

The Owls were not favored because of the absent players; however, their defense was present.

Defensive most valuable player, Rashad Smith ran a fumble back for a score in the third quarter to help FAU prove the doubters wrong.

“We showed the world in Conference USA; we can play ball here too,” Smith said. “Don’t ever underestimate your competition.”

Smith also had a key interception to help set the Owls up for a quick touchdown before going to the locker room at halftime up 28-14.

Defensive MVP Rashad Smith

“To God be the glory,” Smith added. “It was awesome playing with my boys one last time; there was nothing but blessings this year.”

Mustangs quarterback Shane Buechele completed 27 for 47 passes for 303 yards. The Mustangs were seeking their first bowl 11 win season since 2012, the day before they gave coach Sonny Dykes — who has gone 15-11 in his first two seasons with the team, including the 2017 Frisco Bowl loss — a contract extension.

“We have to go back and look back at why we have not performed like we have performed up to this point,” Dykes said. “We have to get ourselves better.”

The Mustangs were wild this year. They were ranked for the first time since 1986, had double-digit wins for the first time since 1984, were 8-0 for the first time since 1982 and added school records including points (544) and points per game (41.8), sacks (50) and rushing touchdowns (35).

However, SMU was held scoreless in the first quarter this season in this game.

The marathon continues.

SMU finishes the season 10-3. They are scheduled to open 2020 on Sept. 5 at Texas State.

FAU finishes 11-3 and the argument for the best team in school history at this point. They are scheduled to open 2020 on Sept. 3 at Minnesota.

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