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Akron Zips vs. Florida Atlantic Owls Point Spread - Pick

Akron Zips (7-6 SU, 9-4 ATS) vs. Florida Atlantic Owls (10-3 SU, 9-4 ATS)
Boca Raton Bowl
Date/Time: Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 7PM EST
Where: FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: AKR +22.5/FAU -22.5
Over/Under Total: 62.6

The Akron Zips come to Florida to take on the Florida Atlantic Owls on Tuesday in the Boca Raton Bowl. This game takes place at Florida Atlantic's home stadium in Boca Raton. The Owls last played on the 2nd of December, beating North Texas, 41-17, to win the Conference USA title, going 10-3 and unbeaten in-conference under first-year head coach Lane Kiffin. They host an incoming Akron team that was just 7-6, but won their division before falling to Toledo, 45-28, in the conference title game, also on the 2nd. Who can get the job done in the Boca Raton Bowl on Tuesday?

After a 1-3 start, the Akron Zips went 6-3 in their final 9 games, performing well enough in-conference to win the Mac East. Big conference wins late in the season over Buffalo and Ohio helped them win the division, though they did fall short against a powerful Toledo team in the conference final. They were a pretty resourceful team, making some nice things happen this season, despite it being hard to figure out how they did it. Their offense and defense rank low in most major categories. Overlooked, they were able to put together a nice 9-4 record against the spread this season, the same ATS mark their opponent had this season.

Several different quarterbacks got play this season for the Zips, led lately by Kato Wilson, with Thomas Woodson having also taken a lot of snaps this season. Neither has been terribly electric. Manny Morgan and Van Edwards, Jr. have led the running duties. Through the air, they have reliable targets like Kwadarrius Smith, AJ Coney, Tra'Von Chapman, and Austin Wolf. But with 23.6 points a game scoring, they have struggled to keep pace with the better teams they have played. They actually had a negative point-differential this season, despite having a winning record.

Akron's defense faltered against Penn State and Iowa State in earlier games where they were out of their element, in addition to conference power Toledo in their two games this season. Other than that, they haven't really been that bad. While not great, they have played in consort with the offense and were typically at least somewhat-stout. They can be leaky against the opposing run and pass, while not being able to apply a good pass-rush this season. They have managed to impose themselves on games with turnovers at times, with LB Ulysses Gilbert, III. a major force on this side of the ball, while defensive back Jordan George had five picks this season. Five different players on this defense have multiple interceptions this season. They will need to add to that total in this week if they hope to have a chance.

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Florida Atlantic also started the season at 1-3, losing to some teams that are out of their realm, before they started dominating within the conference. They managed to close the season with nine straight wins, a lot of them being real beatdowns. The closest any of their last four opponents got was 19 points. They closed the season strong and scored another lopsided beating of North Texas to win the conference. It's hard to call out anything they've done in the last 2-3 months, hence them being such big favorites heading into this matchup.

The Florida Atlantic offense has really been sticking it to opposing defenses during this latest streak, often times putting up points in bunches. The offense is run capably by QB Jason Driskel, who has been effective aerially and as a runner. He has completed over 65% of his throws this season. They get a big boost from a strong running-game, led by Devin Singletary, who has been massive with 1794 yards on the ground and 30 touchdowns. RB Gregory Howell, Jr. has also been useful on the ground for the Owls this season. Aerially, they offer a cabaret approach with Willie Wright, Kalib Woods, Harrison Bryant, DeAndre McNeal, and Kamrin Solomon. What really makes them tough is that they bring it every week.

The Florida Atlantic defense hasn't needed to be great recently, with the offense putting up so many points. But they've managed to be pretty stiff against some good offenses, allowing an average of 24.8 points a game. It's not a great group and they will allow points. With FAU becoming bigger and bigger favorites in games, that's a definite concern, but a 9-4 ATS record is the bottom-line. They make up for a lack of stoutness at times with excellent playmaking. At corner, they get a lot of that with Chris Tooley and Shelton Lewis each having 4 interceptions, with Jalen Young having picked off 7 balls this season. Rashan Smith has been active as a pass-rushing linebacker and they can spring forth with some big developments against mistake-prone offenses.

On one hand, you have a team that is red-hot in the Owls against a team that did well to win the division, but still scored less this season than they allowed. On top of that, it's at FAU, making it that much harder for the Zips. But there is something about Akron that doesn't show up on paper. While they fail to impress with their stats and whatnot, there is a certain resourcefulness and wherewithal necessary to become division champs with things like negative point-differentials and no areas of real strength. For potential FAU backers, the number keeps going up and I think it's surpassed the point of being a good value for the Owls. I'm taking the Akron Zips.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Akron Zips plus 22.5 points.Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Akron vs. FAU game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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