Bulldogs face the Owls on Friday night in intriguing Conference USA crossover matchup
Louisiana Tech enters its weeknight matchup with Florida Atlantic holding firm to second place in the Conference USA West, while the Owls find themselves in fifth place in the East division and desperately seeking a win.
Louisiana Tech earned a 31-24 home win against UTEP last Saturday and has won two in a row after a win two weeks ago at UTSA. The Bulldogs are 5-2 overall and 3-1 in C-USA contests and also 3-1 on the road.
After an 11-3 season in 2017, Florida Atlantic limps into Friday at 3-3 overall and 1-2 in conference games. Marshall defeated the Owls 31-17, extinguishing any momentum FAU carried over from its Oct. 6 win against Old Dominion. FAU's remaining conference opponents this season are a combined 4-7 in the league, so a win Friday could definitely set the Owls on the right track.
Louisiana Tech and Florida Atlantic first met last season, and the Owls grabbed a 48-23 win.
Louisiana Tech at Florida Atlantic
Kickoff: Friday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Florida Atlantic -3
Three Things to Watch
1. Louisiana Tech’s red zone efficiency
Through seven games this year, Louisiana Tech has scored on each of the 24 times its offense has been in the red zone. That efficiency currently has the Bulldogs tied for first in FBS, and it’s what’s made their offense so formidable this year.
Louisiana Tech has scored nine rushing touchdowns, eight passing touchdowns and has kicked seven field goals. The Bulldogs offense could put up banner numbers against a Florida Atlantic defensive unit that ranks tied for No. 115 in FBS in red zone defense. Owl opponents this year have scored points on 24 of their 26 red zone attempts.
2. Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary
Singletary has been a consistent source of points for the Owl offense, and his 14 rushing touchdowns this year are tied for an FBS best. Singletary boasts 665 yards on 147 carries, which is good enough for a 4.5 yard-per-carry average.
The current Conference USA rushing leader was held to a season-low 39 yards on 16 carries in last week’s loss to Marshall. It was also the lone time this season that Singletary didn’t reach the end zone. Prior to that performance, Singletary rushed for more than 100 yards in three consecutive games.
Singletary, FAU's all-time all-purpose yardage and career rushing leader, ranks No. 3 in FBS in scoring with 84 total points. Louisiana Tech’s run defense is allowing 146 yards per game. The unit held UTEP starting running back Ryan Metz to 28 yards on 12 carries last week.
3. Louisiana Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson
Ferguson has been a one-man wrecking crew on the defensive line this year. He tallied 3.5 sacks against UTEP last week to hold a firm grip on his status as FBS’ sack leader. Ferguson has 9.5 sacks entering Friday to go with two pass deflections and one forced fumble.
He’s averaging 1.36 sacks per game and has been credited with either a sack or a half a sack in all but two contests this season. He posted a season-high four sacks on Sept. 29 at North Texas. Ferguson is one sack shy of tying the school’s all-time record for career sacks.
Florida Atlantic’s offensive line has done a good job of keeping starting quarterback Chris Robison upright this year, and the Owls are tied for No. 13 in FBS in sacks allowed (seven).
The Owls have won their last 10 games at Florida Atlantic Stadium, a feat that’s worthy of mentioning. And despite their .500 record thus far, Singletary and receiver Jovon Durante are just a couple of talented pieces who fill their roster.
Louisiana Tech has been impressive in its seven games this year, and even with a blemish on their record against UAB, the Bulldogs remain in the hunt in the East. Quarterback J’Mar Smith ranks fourth in Conference USA for passing yards, and coupled with Ferguson, the Bulldogs are never an easy out. Louisiana Tech should clinch eligibility with the road win Friday.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 33, Florida Atlantic 24
— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A sports reporter for The Meridian Star, Hayes also has been an invited guest on "The Paul Finebaum Show." Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.
(Top photo courtesy of FAU Athletics)