Happy Homecoming, Herd fans!
Welcome to the Desperation Bowl. I’m at a loss to remember a game between teams with a four- and five-game losing streak; maybe we’re talking the Seventies. (Marshall and Alabama-Birmingham 2007 pitted a 2-10 Herd against 1-11 Blazers, but MU didn’t have such a skid at the time.)
There are three teams the Herd is 3-0 against since 2013 — Southern Mississippi, Florida International and Florida Atlantic. Of those teams, FAU has been the biggest pain in the rear.
The Owls always will be athletic, particularly in the secondary. There will be other stars, including defensive end Trey Hendrickson and running back Gregory Howell. On the other hand, they have had injury-related shuffling in the offense line and Jason Driskel is still no Jeff Driskel.
The Herd has run successfully against this bunch, but that will be tied to Chase Litton’s success. I hope for a little creativity in the pass game, mixing in a screen pass or two with the usual downfield shot to Michael Clark. Tight ends Ryan Yurachek and Emanuel Byrd didn’t get enough love at North Texas.
Defensively, the Herd is closer than you think. The before-and-after of that fake punt is inarguable — the defense played well enough to win before and couldn’t defend the run afterward. North Texas held the ball 36 minutes.
But the corners are a more comfortable and the six sacks were encouraging.
Still, look for FAU’s Gregory Howell to get his 100-plus, for he’ll get the carries to do so. Keep him under 150 and you’ll like the result. And maybe the back end can intercept a pass for once.
This will be a white-knuckler into the fourth quarter — remember, FAU has lost its last three by a combined 11 points. On that stat alone, the 11-point line in MU’s favor feels ridiculous.
And it is, but I cautiously predict the Herd fundamental improvement in all phases. Maybe even a successful field goal; who knows?