We'll get to the game preview in a second, but first let's see what you good people of the GPP think? Is this the last FIU/canes football game? All signs point to it with the canes saying they're booked until 2011 or 2012. But don't let your jaw drop if you see FIU opening Joe Robbie Stadium next season against the canes in the canes' JRS stadium debut as a home team.
Heck, FIU is already closing one stadium (Orange Bowl) this season, so why not open 2 stadiums next year: the new FIU Stadium and Joe Robbie (before canes fans go hooting and hollering -- that would be FIU opening the stadium as the canes new home stadium, I know JRS has already opened, although I don't know if people know it has opened for Marlins games this season).
Both schools have been very amicable this week and it seems like there will be plenty of sportsmanship in Saturday's game. Plus, the canes have to fill the spot left vacant by North Texas in their 2008 season opener. So why not?
Yes, FIU is not at the canes level and yada, yada, yada. Heard all the arguments, but this should be an annual game like USC/UCLA and Houston/Rice. Can't call it a rivalry, just yet, because each team has to win for a rivalry to ensue like FIU and canes baseball. But I am saying FIU/canes football should be played every season and once FIU has finished its stadium with 45,000 capacity, the game should be a home and away series.
FIU is scheduled to open 2008 at Kansas. I think PG drops that game in a heartbeat if the canes want to open with the Golden Panthers. FIU and the canes can open next season against each other if the canes want to do it.
If the series does not continue then after 2008, only FIU and canes hoops will continue meeting annually. Because after next season's 2 baseball games, the canes are ready to dump FIU from their baseball schedule because of Jim Morris's past issues with Turtle Thomas.
As for Saturday's game, there could be some serious issues if FIU cannot convert on 3rd downs. The Golden Panthers are 2 for 25 on 3rd down conversions this season and we all saw what happens when you can't get a 1st down and your defense is on the field for a long, hot time. Penn State answered with 35 points in the 2nd half in the season opening rout. If the same happens on Saturday, Canes backs Javarris James and Graig Cooper will have a field day and this game will be a blowout.
FIU's defense will be challenged with the run like they were not at Penn State or with Maryland. While PSU had a superior passing game, the same cannot be said of Kylirby Wrightman. But here's the thing, if James and Cooper get going on the ground, Wrightman will look like Peyton Manning back there, b/c FIU will be focused on the run.
So what can FIU do to make this a game and maybe set itself up for a shot at possibly winning the game in the 4th quarter. 1) Make 1st downs: keeps FIU D fresh on sidelines and keeps canes backs also on sidelines 2) Don't turn the ball over. There will be a new punt returner this week. Greg Ellingson, Kreg Brown, Daunte Owens and Alonzia Phillips all have worked returning punts this week. 3) Score....need more than 10 points from last week to win this game.
If the Golden Panthers can follow through on those 3 GPP keys to winning, then I would say FIU 23-17, but I just don't see the consistency with the FIU offense yet. The offensive play calling has been clever and precise the first two games, but not all the offensive horses have arrived at FIU yet. Sorry GPP faithful, but GPP sees it more like: canes 44, FIU 13.
Remember to have your WinaBlog scores into the GPP for Saturday's game before 11:59 pm on Friday.
CJ: Like Messod pointed out Western Kentucky has been around with football forever. In fact, the Hilltoppers played their first bowl game in the 1952 Refrigerator Bowl.....no kidding, that was the name of that bowl game.
Andy D: For whatever it's worth, FIU was the fastest football program to Division I. I remember 4 years ago at the Sun Belt press conference announcing FIU and FAU's move to the Sun Belt, commissioner Wright Waters mentioned to me that FIU filed their papers to join the conference into the Sun Belt office that day about 4 hours before FAU. But again, for what it's worth. Again yada, yada, yada.
fiugrad: Rest assured I have not forgotten about writing an FIU baseball blog. In the blog titled "MC Gets a Kick Out of Who?" I wrote about the top out-of-conference opponents for FIU this upcoming season: USC, Arizona State and the canes. I've heard the fall roster for baseball has plenty of new faces, but now is when TT evaluates to see which new ones stay and which go. When football slows down, I'll have an FIU baseball blog.
Messod: Hope your question about FIU and the canes playing football again was answered at the beginning of this blog.
E-Man: Welcome to the GPP!