SMU Mustangs vs. FAU Owls Boca Raton Bowl Pick

December 21, 3:30 PM EST

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
SMU -3.5

A pair of 10-win teams hook up when Florida Atlantic and SMU battle in the Boca Raton Bowl Saturday afternoon down in South Florida. The Owls are playing this bowl on their home field but without their recently departed head coach. They're also catching a field goal-plus on the college football bowl betting line. Who do we like here for our free college football pick?

College Football Betting Odds

College football bowl betting odds opened SMU at -3 over FAU, with an over/under of right around 70. Early betting action then added a hook to that spread.

Sagarin's ratings at posit the Mustangs as 4.5-point favorites.

Boca Raton Bowl Betting Preview

Southern Methodist was picked to finish third or fourth in the AAC West this season, and finished third, going 6-2 in conference play. The Mustangs started the season 8-0, with a Big 12 road win at TCU, rising to No. 15 in the rankings. SMU then lost two of its next three games to two pretty good teams in Memphis and Navy, which cost them a shot at a division title. The Mustangs then finished with a 37-20 victory over Tulane Nov. 30.

So SMU is back in a bowl after missing out last season.

The Mustangs, led by former Texas QB Steve Buechele, rank No. 9 in FBS in total offense, averaging 495 yards per game – 186 on the ground and 309 through the air. But they also rank 102nd in total defense, giving up 439 YPG. So SMU is used to games in which both teams go up and down the field.

Florida Atlantic, meanwhile, was picked to win the CUSA East this season, and that's just what they did, going 7-1 in conference play. The Owls opened this season with losses to two pretty good teams in Ohio State and Central Florida, then won nine of their next 10, all by double digits, to claim that division title. FAU then blasted UAB in the CUSA championship game 49-6, easily covering as a nine-point favorite.

So the Owls are also back in a bowl after missing out last season.

Florida Atlantic ranks 32nd in FBS in total offense, averaging 444 YPG, and 48th in total defense, allowing 371 YPG, So this Owls stop unit is almost 70 YPG better than SMU's. FAU also ranks No. 1 in the Nation in turnover margin at +20.

The big news for FAU is the recent departure of Coach Kiffin, who just bolted Boca Raton for the head job at Ole Miss. So the Owls will be led by an interim head coach for this bowl.

College Football Betting Trends

  • SMU is 5-3 ATS this season as a favorite, 3-0 ATS when favored by seven points or less.
  • SMU is 3-3 ATS this season against teams that made bowl games.
  • Florida Atlantic is 6-2 ATS this season against teams that made bowls.

Totals Report

  • Overs are 9-3 in the Mustangs games this season, which are averaging a healthy 75 total points.
  • Totals are split 6-6 in Owls games this season, which are averaging 58 points.

SMU at FAU Prediction 12/21/19

SMU owns an edge on offense, but FAU holds the better defense, and we prefer betting on the better defense in bowl match-ups like this. Also, the Owls ride a six-game winning streak into this contest, while the Mustangs are only 2-2 over their last four. Also, the previous time FAU played this bowl on its home field, two seasons ago, it beat Akron 50-3. And finally, while Kiffin is gone, that's not necessarily a harbinger of failure in games like this. Sometimes teams respond well under interim coaches. We're taking the Owls here, plus the points.

Free Pick: 
Take the Owls +3.5