FAU Owls look for fourth straight win, hope to close out regular season undefeated at home

FAU Owls look for fourth straight win, hope to close out regular season undefeated at home (Sun Sentinel)

The FAU Owls have the opportunity to accomplish a feat for the first time in program history on Friday: finish the regular season undefeated at their home stadium.

Florida Atlantic (4-1, 4-1 Conference USA) enters its lone non-conference matchup of the regular season versus the UMass Minutemen with a 3-0 record at FAU Stadium, beating Charlotte, UTSA and Western Kentucky by a combined margin of 55-26.

The Owls,' who are scheduled to close out the season with three road games, best regular-season home record to date came in 2017 (5-1). Their 4-1 home record in 2008 was the only other time they finished the regular season with only one loss at home.

“This game right here means a lot,” running back James Charles said. “For it to be our last home game this season, especially with everything that went on with COVID-19 and injuries, it’s going to mean a lot knowing that we have a winning streak going on at home. We have to understand that with playing against UMass, they’re going to come in and play hard football. They’re going to try everything in their power to take that victory away from us. We want to finish the season undefeated at home. We love to protect ‘Paradise’.”

Friday could the final home game for several FAU players, with 21 players listed as seniors, redshirt seniors or graduate students.

But the uncertainty 2020 has brought has extended into next year — with some upperclassmen not knowing whether they’ll be playing their final regular-season game at FAU Stadium on Friday.


The NCAA Division I board of directors voted in August to give all fall sport athletes — including football players — “an additional year of eligibility and an additional year in which to complete it.”

Charles, a redshirt senior, told reporters earlier in the week that he’d return to the program if he could using the waiver.

“I just take it day by day,” he said. “I know with the NCAA’s waiver and being able to get a year back, I’ll definitely be one to come back, of course, if it’s possible. If it is, you’ll see my face again.”

The Division I council introduced a measure in October that would give all Division I athletes the opportunity to transfer and compete immediately once during their collegiate experience. The board of directors are expected to vote on the measure in January. If approved, the measure would go into effect for the 2021-22 academic year.

FAU Coach Willie Taggart said the upperclassmen players haven’t spoken with him on what their plans for next season would be, as the team’s focused on finishing this season strong.

“We haven’t talked about next year,” he said. “We’ve been locked into this year and finish the year like we want to. We talked earlier in the year when the rule came out and talked in detail with our guys so they all had an understanding of how the rule worked. From that point on, we’ve really been locked into now.”

The Owls’ matchup against the Minutemen gives Taggart the chance to coach against one of his former assistants.

Walt Bell was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Taggart for one season at Florida State in 2018 before taking over the coaching reins at UMass.

The Minutemen scheduled a “limited number” of games for the fall after originally canceling the season in August, losing their first two games to Georgia Southern and Marshall by a 92-10 margin.

“Walt and I texted a couple of weeks ago when this was coming together,” Taggart said. “He wants to play some games and he understands that in order to get better, you got to play.”

FAU’s coming off its best offensive performance so far of the year in its Shula Bowl victory against FIU. Javion Posey’s expected to start at quarterback after his record-breaking performance against the Panthers in the first start at quarterback of his collegiate career.

The Owls will close out the regular season with road games against Middle Tennessee State (Nov. 28), Georgia Southern (Dec. 5) and Southern Miss (Dec. 10).