Ok, really the Don Shula Bowl counts every season with the winner between FIU and Florida Atlantic taking home the Shula Trophy and bragging rights until next November. No need for MC and HS (left) to pose in a boxing ring to ratchet up the FIU/FAU rivalry like HS and Bobby Bowden (right) jokingly did in 1983 for the UM/FSU rivalry.
Saturday's game will have so much more on the line besides bragging rights with both teams playing for a bowl game. With a win, FIU would still need to beat Western Kentucky next week to get to the 6-win mark. FAU with a win becomes bowl eligible and likely plays in the postseason, especially after two more bowls opened up Friday with Colorado's loss to Nebraska. The Independence Bowl and The Texas Bowl are now looking for teams.
However, don't have a good feeling about the Golden Panthers for the 7th Shula Bowl. Being such a young and inexperienced team, we don't really know which FIU team will show up at Dolphin Stadium.
Are we going to see the inspired FIU that took Toledo, NT and Middle Tennessee to the woodshed or the flat-lined FIU that stumbled against UL and ULM?
If the Golden Panthers learned their lesson from the ULM loss -- that the game does not start in the 3rd quarter -- and play with an FPL-type of energy, score touchdowns early and make life miserable for Owls QB Rusty Smith, then we could see a season finale next week at FIU Stadium with bowl implications.
Until last week's loss at Arkansas State, the Owls were rolling, winners of 4 straight. I saw firsthand two weeks ago what the FAU offense is capable of vs. Louisiana at Lockhart Stadium. FAU destroyed UL. This is a scary-good offense when it gets rolling. And it can do that against FIU, because of the Golden Panthers lack of pressure on the opposing QB all season long.
FIU, ranked No. 14 in the nation in tackles for loss, has done a good job getting tackles behind the line of scrimmage all season, but it just has not been able to finish off opposing QBs with just 15 sacks. Maybe another offseason in the weight room for the young FIU defenders will do the trick.
Regardless, it has been a solid turnaround this season for an FIU team that was still looking for its first win at this point last season. Nothing to hang your heads about Golden Panthers, but bowling will have to wait until next season.
GPP thinks: FAU 42, FIU 28