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Joe Person's gameday forecast, prediction

Florida Atlantic has been playing football for nine years. Steve Spurrier has visors older than that.

The Owls have played 16 games against the big boys from BCS conferences – and lost 15 of them. Their lone win in those matchups came in 2007 against a Minnesota team that finished 1-11 and had home losses to Bowling Green and North Dakota State.

Most of FAU’s games against college football’s ranking class have not been close.

This one shouldn’t be, either.

Howard Schnellenberger’s squad has plenty of athletes. Something like 107 of FAU’s 113 players come from Florida, home of sunshine, oranges and really fast football players.

But what FAU apparently does not have is much of a defense. The Owls gave up 490 yards in their only game – a 49-3 shellacking at the corn-shucking hands of Nebraska.

Among Nebraska’s seven touchdowns, three covered 28 yards or more – including a 51-yard touchdown pass. Could this be the game that Tori Gurley finishes with more touchdown receptions than touchdowns called back?

There are two ways this game is close:

–FAU QB Rusty Smith plays out of his mind, as he did vs. Minnesota two years ago (27-of-44, 463 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs).

–USC QB Stephen Garcia plays out of his mind, as he did in the Outback Bowl last season (do we really need to rehash the sordid details?).

There’s nothing to suggest Garcia will regress this week. The right-hander enjoyed what appeared to everyone but Spurrier to be a breakout game at Georgia.

He displayed poise, hanging in the pocket when he needed to. He demonstrated his athleticism on the plays when he was forced to scramble. And he showed patience, resisting the urge to throw into coverage against a defense that hung back in a two-deep zone and dared him to heave the ball deep.

But before Spurrier and the rest of Gamecock Nation can believe in Garcia, the Tampan (is that a word?) has to string a couple of good games together.

This is a good chance to get to stringing.

It says here that Garcia has another strong outing, Jarvis Giles breaks off a long touchdown run and the revamped rushing attack gets rolling.