BOCA RATON BOWL
By Jerome Vickers
The 2018 Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl between Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls and the University of Akron was played at FAU stadium.
 
FAU came into the game 10-3 including an 8-0 conference record capped by winning the Conference USA championship 41-17 against North Texas. While Akron boosted a 7-6 record losing in the MAC championship game 45-28 to Toledo.
There was an announced crowd just shy of 26,000 but despite it being a home game for the Owls, for some reason when the game started, there were hardly any fans or buzz in the stadium. It was 74 degrees at kickoff with no wind or rain so perhaps both teams were a bit rusty due to the long layoff before the bowl game since they each missed field goals on their first possessions.
FAU runs a no huddle offense and by the second quarter I could see that Akron could not keep up with the pace. Their offense is led by redshirt junior QB Jason Driskell, who’s brother played QB for the Florida Gators, and he ran it almost to perfection. The Owls led 14-3 with 1:37 to go before halftime and, after an Akron punt, FAU went 87 yards in 58 seconds to increase the lead to 21-3.  The key play was a Driskell pass for 63 yards to senior WR Kamrin Solomon.  Akron could not generated much offense all night and after a 3 and out FAU decided to feature sophomore RB Devin Singletary running him 8 times for 40 yards on a 10 play drive. A short Singletary TD run put FAU up 28-3 and, although there were twelve minutes to go in the third quarter, even diehard Akron fans knew their team was overmatched.
With the game clearly in hand the only question was would Lane Kiffin call off the dogs? The answer was simple. No!!! With FAU up 34-3 and 6:30 to go in the 3rd quarter for some reason Kiffin had his offense attempt a two point conversion which they converted to go up 36-3. Plus the Owls went for it on fourth down six times and was successful 5 times. Including going for it in the first quarter on 4th & 2 from their own 29 yard line. The only time that FAU did not convert a fourth down was with less than a minute go and the starting offense still in the game up by 47 points on 4th and 13th pass which fell incomplete. Akron had only 146 total yards while FAU  finished with 582 total yards including 60 rushes for 312 yards. Seven times this season the Owls offense has had 550 total yards or more.
Final score FAU 50 Akron 3.
Akron head coach Terry Bowden when asked in the post game press conference about Kiffin not taking his foot off the gas. Bowden said, “They went for it every fourth down right off the back, they came to win, they came to play because if they don’t make those fourth downs that might change the outcome of the game. But you gotta give them credit going for fourth downs in their on territory a couple of times and playing to win”. Bowden also said he didn’t have an issue with Kiffin still trying to score more points despite have a huge lead.
This is Kiffin’s first season at FAU before he arrived the Owls had three straight 3-9 seasons. After the game Kiffin said, “Scoring 50 points in a bowl game is just an unbelievable day”.  Kiffin, when asked why he went for it on two being up 31 points, said that an Akron athletic official talk trashed before the game so, “His bad”.
A year ago Kiffin was the offensive coordinator at Alabama preparing to coach in the National Championship game against Clemson. Then, a week before the game, Nick Saban fired Kiffin. FAU started the season 1-3 but now Kiffin is the talk of college football, FAU has won 10 straight games which is the second longest winning streak in the FBS and he has given FAU national exposure so it’s amazing how quickly things change.
Despite it being reported that Kiffin has signed a 10-year extension all it takes is one bad season (ask Jimbo Fisher) for the alumni to start looking for a replacement or for Kiffin to be in the right spot at the right time and move on. Right now Kiffin is riding high at FAU but, as with all his other coaching stops the question, is how and when will it end?