With less than 100 days to go until the start of the college football season, it is time to start the hype machine. Las Vegas is already onboard, with the point spreads for the first games of the season being released this week. Naturally, upon seeing these odds one’s eyes are drawn to Navy and their status as a 21 point favorite over Florida Atlantic.
Is this realistic though? Should the Mids be a three-touchdown favorite over an Owls squad that has made at least one key change during the offseason?
While Navy continues to defy the odds under head coach Ken Niumatalolo, the Mids did end the season on three-game losing streak. Obviously, there were mitigating factors in play here, with injuries to key players being chief among them, but given the inconsistent play of starting quarterback Zach Abey over the spring practice sessions, it is hard to feel any real level of comfort with the Navy offense right now.
The triple-option is a wonderful thing when it is going right, but when it goes wrong, it goes wrong in a hurry. Keenan Reynolds and Will Worth were masters at not turning the ball over despite contact on seemingly every play. That is not easy to do. It is also not easy to simulate the triple-option in a practice setting as the whole offense relying on timing more than anything else to work.
Then there is the Lane Kiffin factor.
Kiffin is now the head coach at FAU and while he will undoubtedly bring controversy to the program, he will also (in the short term at least) bring wins. The SBNation preview for the season has the Mids probability of winning this game at just 62%, with a projected margin of 5.5 points. That is a far cry from the 21 points Vegas sees this game being decided by.
Kiffin has already stolen a couple of recruits from Power 5 teams and those guys will start from day one, immediately upgrading the athleticism and skill of the FAU team. The Owls also have a running back in Devin Singletary who can give the Mids fits, but Kiffin will have to quickly upgrade a defense that might have been the worst in the entire country last season.
Oh, this game is also on the road too in Boca Raton.
Basically, while the Mids should win this one by grinding down the Owls in the second half, it is hard at this point in the preseason to see the sort of offensive explosion that would result in a three touchdown victory.