Updated Boca Raton Bowl 2019 Odds, Predictions & Picks: Expect Points in FAU-SMU?

Updated Boca Raton Bowl 2019 Odds, Predictions & Picks: Expect Points in FAU-SMU? article feature image

Timothy Flores-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Shane Buechele

  • Boca Raton Bowl odds went haywire on Friday after the news of multiple starters for FAU missing the game.
  • The updated spread for FAU-SMU makes the Mustangs 7.5-point favorites, while the over/under sits at 64.5.
  • Which team should you be picking? Our experts details their favorite ways to bet on the Boca Raton Bowl below.

2019 Boca Raton Bowl Picks & Odds: FAU vs. SMU

  • Spread: SMU -7.5
  • Over/Under: 64.5
  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 21
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ABC
  • Location: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.

UPDATE: FAU will be without its top two receivers and a starting linebacker, among several other players, in this game for academic reasons.

That’s moved the line overnight Friday a full four points to SMU -7.5. The total has also dropped to 64.5, down a touchdown from a few days ago.

Odds via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

FAU vs. SMU Line Movement

The movement on this spread has been about as standard as it gets. After opening at the key number of -3, most books have moved SMU to a 3.5-point favorite behind an impressive 75% of both bets and money.

The total, on the other hand, has been a bit more interesting. Thanks (probably) to some windy weather in the forecast, the number has fallen out of the 70 club, dropping from an opener of 72 down to 68.5. Almost 60% of bets have landed on the under — Danny Donahue

Two Fun Facts

  • FAU ranks 41st in defensive SP+, its first finish inside the top 75 since 2013.
  • SMU was one of five teams to have at least nine games go over the total, and its +9.4 margin against totals was third highest nationally. But the Mustangs failed to hit the over in two of their last three games after their totals began to consistently creep into the high 60’s and low 70’s. — Steve Petrella

Latest News

Florida Atlantic has not named a new playcaller for this game with Lane Kiffin now at Ole Miss. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr. (the youngest OC in the country at 26) may also be on the move soon, but would be the most likely option for this game. Collin Wilson

Who’s Motivated?

Sonny Dykes exclamation on the Boca Raton Bowl media teleconference centered around Florida as the destination and his players having the chance to shine on ABC.

The Mustangs had their sights set on a warm weather destination for a bowl game, with Boca Raton toward the top of that list. The chance to compete against a conference champion was another appealing aspect for Dykes.

Florida Atlantic players have publicly endorsed defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer as the interim head coach, but he wasn’t too excited about having to face SMU’s high-powered offense.

“You’re like fantastic, ‘I’m the interim head coach, (I) get to go to a bowl game; (I) get to stay in town,’” Spencer told the Palm Beach Post. “And then you get a message that it’s SMU and you’re like, ‘Oh no, that’s not good.'” Collin Wilson

Collin Wilson: Edges Everywhere for SMU Offense

As mentioned in my early bowl bets, there are advantages for SMU all over on offense. The Mustangs are top 20 in pass explosiveness which will take advantage of an FAU defensive rank of 58th.

This game should move at a lightning pace, as both teams rank top 15 in seconds per play. This game is also one of the biggest discrepancies in havoc, with SMU having a defensive rank of 18th against Florida Atlantic at 93rd in havoc allowed.

Our projections make this SMU -6 on a neutral field, so even with the Owls getting two points for home-field advantage, I’m happy to lay it. Collin Wilson

Collin’s Pick: SMU -3

Stuckey: A True Coin Flip

I’m going to disagree with Collin here. I personally make this game a true coin flip with FAU playing at home in Boca Raton.

From a matchup perspective, these two teams look pretty even statistically on both sides of the ball. However, if you dig into the advanced stats, SMU gives up a ton of explosive plays both on the ground and through the air, ranking outside the top 100 in each. That’s not great against an explosive FAU offense that ranks in the top 25 nationally in both categories.

And on the other side of the ball, the Owls do give up a ton of big runs, but that’s not really SMU’s game. FAU can match up on the outside and its defensive line should win the battle in the trenches. — Stuckey

Red Zone Will Be the Difference

That said, SMU should pick up plenty of yardage between the 20s but could struggle in the red zone. SMU sits outside the top 100 in red zone offense and it’s been an area of concern all season. That could spell trouble against an FAU defense that ranks in the top 20 in red zone scoring percentage and has only allowed 20 touchdowns in 36 opponent red zone trips.

Give me the home dog Owls, who have the explosive offense to exploit SMU, which is what doomed the Mustangs in their two losses in which they allowed over 1,000 total yards and 89 points.

Look for one of the country’s best tight ends, Harrison Bryant, to have a monster game. And keep in mind that FAU has the better overall special teams units, especially if Reggie Roberson can’t go for SMU, which not only hurts SMU at receiver but also in the return game.

In regards to the total, the number seems about right for two top 15 teams in terms of pace and two top 20 scoring offenses.

I wouldn’t dare look to play an SMU under, especially in a bowl game. The Mustangs were over machines all season. — Stuckey

Stuckey’s Pick: FAU +3

Miller: Whatever FAU Does, SMU Does it Better

Sonny Dykes engineered a breakthrough season for the Mustangs. His offense goes at warp speed and uses explosive plays to move the ball down the field. The Mustangs have been highly successful with this formula and I expect it to continue on Saturday against the Owls.

When FAU has the ball, it uses the exact same blueprint as SMU, the Owls just aren’t as good at it. SMU’s defense is nowhere near solid, but I think there will be a pretty big drop off for FAU’s offense without Lane Kiffin.

SMU has the makings of a bowl team that is looking to build on its successes for 2020. Dykes, quarterback Shane Buechele, and star receiver Reggie Roberson (though unlikely for this game) will all be back next year and the program is trending upward. Despite FAU being the home team in this game, I expect SMU to win comfortably.

I make the Mustangs a 4-point favorite so I made a 2-unit investment on SMU at a pick when lines were released and if the line creeps over four, I’ll be looking to take a bit off of my original position. At the current number, I still prefer SMU as I think Sonny Dykes has something special brewing in Dallas. — Kyle Miller

Pick: SMU -3.5 or better

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