1st bowl game since 2008 for Florida Atlantic
Boca Raton Bowl: Akron (7-6) vs. FAU (10-3), Dec. 19, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Florida Atlantic by 22.
Series Record: first meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
In coach Lane Kiffin’s first year at Florida Atlantic, the Owls reached a bowl for the first time since a 2008 Motor City Bowl victory, and a win would represent another step forward for the program. The Owls, who went 3-9 each of the past three years, have won nine consecutive games and captured the Conference USA title this season. The reward is a postseason game in their home stadium.
LB Ulysees Gilbert will likely need to tackle Devin Singletary a lot to keep underdog Akron in the game. Gilbert is a first-team all-Mid-American Conference selection who has recorded more than 120 tackles each of the last two seasons. Singletary has rushed for 1,796 yards and an FBS-high 29 touchdowns for Florida Atlantic while averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Florida Atlantic: Helping to create holes for Singletary are LT Reggie Bain, LG Roman Fernandez and C Antonyo Woods. Each is a Conference USA first-team choice.
Akron: DB Alvin Davis is only 5-9 and 170 pounds, but he was a second-team MAC selection and will likely have a big cheering section because he grew up in Fort Lauderdale. He has 159 tackles in two seasons and will be a key part of the Zips’ run defense.
FACTS & FIGURES
Each team started 1-3. … FAU rebounded to become a 10-win team for the first time at the FBS level. … Akron recovered to reach the Mid-American Conference championship game for the first time since 2005 , then lost to Toledo 45-28. … FAU leads the FBS with 20 interceptions, and Akron is second with 19. … The Owls rank sixth in rushing offense with 283 yards per game, and ninth in scoring offense at 39.8. … Owls S Jalen Young is tied for first with seven interceptions. … FAU linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair is fifth in the nation with 134 tackles. … Owls junior QB Jason Driskel is 9-1 as a starter. … Kerrith Whyte became the first Owl to ever return a kickoff for a score against Louisiana Tech, and averages 29.5 yards per return. … Akron has 29 players from Florida, including 12 from South Florida.
More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25