FAU vs. Charlotte Week 9 college football prediction and preview

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Week 9 Friday games feature FAU vs. Charlotte

A couple of former Conference USA members square off in an AAC matchup on Friday night when Florida Atlantic visits Charlotte. It has not been a great season for either team under new head coaches, as the Owls are just 3-4 under Tom Herman and the 49ers are 2-5 under Biff Poggi. 

 

Charlotte just picked up that second win and the program’s first against a FBS member this season with a 10-7 triumph over East Carolina. FAU got pretty soundly beaten by UTSA to fall to 2-1 in league play and put bowl eligibility in jeopardy with a 36-10 loss in Boca Raton.

Is there a good bet to make in this one? Let’s check it out.

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Odds as of 10/25, 11:00 a.m. PT

Florida Atlantic Owls (-4, 41.5) at Charlotte 49ers

I’m sure FAU envisioned this season going differently. Herman brought in former Texas and Nebraska QB Casey Thompson, but he struggled and then tore his ACL. Central Michigan transfer Daniel Richardson has thrown for over 1,000 yards, but he has more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5) and the only reason that the team doesn’t have a negative TD/INT ratio is because WR Javion Posey has a 33-yard TD pass.

The running game hasn’t found much footing either. Third-string QB Michael Johnson Jr. has three of the team’s eight rushing touchdowns out of nine carries. The Owls have only managed 3.9 yards per carry and haven’t created many explosive plays. Herman’s claim to fame was being an offensive genius with stints as the OC at Ohio State under Urban Meyer and then head coaching gigs at both Houston and Texas. We haven’t seen it this season.

The 49ers hired a football lifer in Poggi, who goes full retired dad on the sidelines sometimes with sleeveless white shirts bearing the Charlotte logo. He’s not angry, he’s just disappointed with the offense’s performance this season. The QBs have combined for a 4/8 TD/INT ratio between Jalon Jones and Trexler Ivey. Jones is the team’s leading rusher with 447 yards, which is more than double running back Terron Kellman with 192. Charlotte has only scored 11 offensive touchdowns.

Neither defense stands out. The 49ers are 84th in the nation in yards per play allowed and the Owls are 53rd. Charlotte has only allowed 4.52 YPP to AAC opponents, though, and just 3.7 YPP in games against ECU and Navy this month. FAU certainly has a better offense than those teams, so this will be a stiffer test. As for the Owls defense, there isn’t much of interest to report, other than the fact that they have 13 takeaways and are exactly even in turnover margin.

To me, that’s where the difference lies in this game. Charlotte only has six takeaways and is -6 in TO margin. Florida Atlantic has done well to generate those momentum-shifting plays on defense and Charlotte has not. Neither team takes great care of the football, but one defense is better at taking it away and that gives FAU the edge to me. My line is FAU -6.5 here, so between that and the TO difference, the Owls are worth a look.

Pick: Florida Atlantic -4