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  • The Owls won two conference games last season. They're halfway there now after Lane Kiffin picked up his first FBS win as FSU head coach.
By Eric Single
September 30, 2017

It’s been tough to take hard and fast lessons from the first month of Lane Kiffin’s first season as head coach of Florida Atlantic. The Owls opened with tough games against Navy and Wisconsin, beat FCS Bethune-Cookman and saw their fourth-quarter rally come too late on the road against Buffalo, but their progress from last year’s 3–9 finish was always going to be measured by how they fared in Conference USA, where they won just two games last year.

Saturday’s conference opener was a good start. Florida Atlantic jumped out to a 24–6 halftime lead on Middle Tennessee and cruised in the second half to put away the Blue Raiders with a 38–20 win, Kiffin’s first victory over an FBS team at the helm in Boca Raton and FAU’s first win over MTSU since 2007. Running back Devin Singletary ran for 133 yards and four touchdowns, and quarterback Jason Driskel was a tidy 22 of 29 for 187 yards and a score through the air.

The Owls’ two offensive stars on Saturday night have come a long way in a month. Singletary got only six carries in the opener against Navy but has settled into a bell cow back role over the past three games, with 398 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in that span. Driskel, the younger brother of former Florida and Louisiana Tech starter Jeff Driskel, was making his second consecutive start after the offense stumbled out of the gate under Week 1 starter Daniel Parr. (The preseason second-string QB, former De’Andre Johnson, was diagnosed with blood clots in his arm in mid-September.)

When Kiffin took the Florida Atlantic job, most predicted he would jump for the first Power 5 school with a head coaching vacancy that came calling. If the Owls can hang in the Conference USA race as the schedule wears on—tests against Old Dominion, North Texas and Western Kentucky loom in October—those calls might come sooner than most expected.

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