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Miami Hurricanes Schedule Preview: Miami @ Florida Atlantic

Our SOTU schedule preview series continues as we look at game 2 when Al Golden's Hurricanes travel to Boca to play Florida Atlantic.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

As part of the dwindling offseason, SOTU will preview each game on the Canes' schedule. During the season there will be much more in-depth previews the week before each game, but these will serve to get you ready for what is to come. Enjoy!

Little brother growing up?

The U as we know it was built by coach Howard Schnellenberger. He was the visionary who coined the "State of Miami" phrase, changed the recruiting paradigm, and brought the Canes to the forefront of the college Football World.

Years after leaving The U, Schnellenberger decided he wanted to take on a new project. This time, he wouldn't be taking a program from middling to great, he would be taking it from non-existence into existence. And that's how, after 3 years of infrastructure building, Florida Atlantic University finally got a football team in 2001.

And, since Schnellenberger both made Miami a household name, and brought FAU football into being, the Owls really are like the Canes' little brothers.

But, don't go telling the Owls that. They have been improving over their 13 year history, and are now members of Conference USA. With 2nd year coach Charlie Partridge, FAU looks to continue the upward trajectory of their program with a solid recruiting plan, and improved on field play. There is still a ways to go, after Partridge and company limped to a 3-9 record in his first year as coach, but there are reasons for optimism in Boca Raton.

The roster is improving greatly due to recruiting success. Everybody remembers when Jordan Scarlett committed there to give FAU more visibility locally, and the move is working, at least with mid-tier South Florida recruits (FAU won't ever get an ELITE talent to go there out of HS).

The Owls have a brand new, on-campus stadium that opened in 2011, and hosts a bowl game at the end of the College Football Season.

And, last but not least, the upgrade from Carl Pelini to Charlie Partridge cannot be overstated. Partridge is a South Florida guy, and he's dedicated to taking FAU back to it's glory days (Schnellenberger led the Owls to 11-3 and 9-3 records in 2003 and 2004, respectively) and beyond.

All those things put together mean that little brother FAU is growing up right before our eyes.

But they'll remember who Big Brother is soon enough.

Series History

FAU and Miami have played each other once. That game, the 2013 season opener, was a 34-6 Miami victory.

Some may remember Stacy Coley dropping a couple wide open passes that would have been touchdowns in his first game action as a Hurricane. Others may remember Duke Johnson ripping through the Owls' defense for more than 200 yards of total offense.

I, however, like to remember that game for this wonderful coaching move by then-FAU coach Carl Pelini (before his, uh....."issues").

FAU gaff

Yeah, that was on 4th down. Good times. I'm gonna miss good ol' Carl.

Players to watch

The Owl offense is led by QB Jaquez Johnson, who threw for 2200 yards on 58% passing with 17 TDs and 5 INTs, and ran for more than 500 yards in 2014. He was in a QB battle with Greg Hankerson for a couple years, but Johnson's play solidified him as the starter, and was the cause of Hankerson deciding to transfer.

While FAU lost most of their top skill players to graduation, the Owels still have a few skill players who could break out. Henry Bussey, Derrick Moise, and Jenson Shostak are but a few who could become impact players for FAU over the course of the 2015 season.

On defense, LB Robert Relf and DT Trevon Coley are players to watch. In addition to being one of FAU's top linemen, Coley was a HS teammate of Miami LB Jermaine Grace, CB Tracy Howard, and WR Malcolm Lewis at Miramar High School.

And, while we're on the topic of South Florida High Schools, 48 scholarship players on FAU's roster attended HS in the tri-county South Florida area. Look at their roster and you'll see plenty of Miramar, Booker T. Washington, St. Thomas Aquinas, William T. Dwyer, Miami Central and the like. These players played with and against the guys who suit up for the Hurricanes. So, there's a level of familiarity between these teams, and I'm sure the FAU kids are looking forward to showing what they can do against the Hurricanes.

Overall impression

FAU is improving, and I think Charlie Partridge has them on the right track. But, like Bethune Cookman before them, the Owls are simply not going to be much of a match for the Canes.

Miami should be able to come out fast, dictate the tempo of the game on both sides of the ball, and put this one away early.

If all goes right, this is a 2nd straight game where the backups get valuable game experience for the Canes.