IRVING, TEXAS -- Yes, I know the game Saturday between FIU and North Texas is in Denton, Texas on the campus of the Mean Green, but yours truly is staying in Irving where the view outside the hotel room is of Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL's version of the FIU Golden Dazzlers.
The Golden Panthers try to win 2 games in a row on Saturday for the first time since closing out the 2005 season with 3 three straight wins. While most of GPP Nation is seeing a blowout or an easy win for FIU -- who BTW is favored for the first time in a game since joining Division I in 2005 -- I cannot predict such a cakewalk win for a team that has won 2 games in 2 years. Plus, this is a conference game and rarely are those blowouts, especially between two somewhat evenly-matched teams.
Here's why: North Texas began the season with four heavyweights -- in relation to the Mean Green -- Kansas State, Tulsa, LSU and Rice. This week North Texas is in a situation that FIU found itself in last week: a game against an opponent of equal caliber. So expect the Mean Green to put up a stronger showing against the Golden Panthers than in the season's first 4 games.
The Mean Green return their top RB, QB and WR from last season and have the potential to dent the scoreboard in Denton. RB Micah Mosely, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry last season in 94 attempts and scored 5 TDs, has not played since the season opener, but returns Saturday. In the season opener, MM ran for 56 yards on 10 carries against K-State.
QB Giovanni Vizza is the typical Sun Belt QB that can operate the spread as effectively running or passing. His top target Casey Fitzgerald is also back. However, 2nd leading receiver Sam Dibrell quit football earlier this week so that sets back NT's O somewhat.
Judging by the first 4, the NT D has been as generous as Santa Claus at X-mas. But again that was vs. non-conference BCS boys.
LIke many of you voted, FIU's biggest potential roadblock going into this game is overconfidence. If the Golden Panthers stay level-headed and produce in all 3 facets of the game like they did vs. Toledo they arrive in Miami on a 2-game winning streak.
The FIU O needs to continue its strong running from last week. Julian Reams is not 100 percent, but should give it a go. We could see Daunte Owens (left) in his most significant playing time of the season. DO is the fastest of the 3 FIU RBs and if he gets a crease from NT you can dial up 6 for FIU.
Andy Leavine is back on the O-line and that should help with Paul McCall's protection and give the FIU QB more time to throw. If the FIU D takes care of business and the FIU run game is effective, the Golden Panthers just need PM to convert 3rd downs and be efficient.
Las Vegas has this game as a high-scoring affair with the points around 60, but an encore performance from the FIU D will keep this one a lower scoring affair and a 2nd straight win for FIU.
GPP thinks: FIU 27, North Texas 22
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