Where: Boca Raton
Coach: Howard Schnellenberger (41-42, eighth season; 141-119-3, 23 overall)
Conference: Sun Belt
Last season: 8-5, 6-1 Sun Belt
Area players: WR Chris Bonner (Gaither), LB Malik Eugene (Freedom), RB Willie Rose (Gaither), WR Conshario Johnson (Middleton), TE Jason Harmon (Riverview), DL Dino Cox (Wharton), DL Ryan Sollazzo (Armwood), TE Ed Wertepny (Sickles).
Stadium: Lockhart Stadium (20,500); Dolphin Stadium (70,000)
Outlook: The Owls were picked to win the Sun Belt by the coaches after a surprising 2007 season that ended with a conference title and their first bowl game, a 44-27 victory over Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl. Rusty Smith threw for 3,688 yards and 32 touchdowns in earning conference MVP honors. He led the Sun Belt's top passing offense, which averaged 291.1 yards and 37.1 points in the final seven games. Defensively, linebacker Frantz Joseph led the Owls with 131 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions last season. FAU has a tough nonconference slate, opening at Texas and playing at Michigan State and at Minnesota. In July, Schnellenberger got a contract extension through 2010, and at 74 shows no signs of slowing.
Web site: fausports.com
Saturdayat Texas7 p.m.
Sept. 6Alabama-Birmingham4 p.m.
Sept. 13at Michigan Statenoon
Sept. 20at Minnesotanoon
Sept. 30at Middle Tennessee8 p.m.
Oct. 7Troy8 p.m.
Oct. 18at Western KentuckyTBA
Oct. 25at Louisiana-Monroe7 p.m.
Nov. 8North Texas4 p.m.
Nov. 15Louisiana-Lafayette4 p.m.
Nov. 22at Arkansas State3 p.m.
Nov. 29FIU4 p.m.
Izzy Gould, Times staff writer