It has been a dreary, rainy, cool day here in the home of the Tide. Nothing but a water mist falling from the sky all day Friday. Weather like this in Saturday's game could make it interesting when it comes to turnovers. We'll get to the game preview in a second, but to show you how football crazy this place is....
As I'm getting my rental car from the Birmingham airport, the nice old lady working the Hertz counter is telling me about the sights to see in Birmingham before she takes my credit card. The lady, who could remind anyone of their grandmother and probably doesn't have a mean bone in her body -- sees that on the credit card it says Miami Herald below my name.
She asks what I'm doing in Birmingham and I tell her about Saturday's game between FIU and Alabama. When I mention the game, she starts rattling off her scouting report on the game with info about both schools. (In this neck of the woods, Nick Saban is not the only one who knows about FIU's No. 4).
As the little old lady hands me the car keys, she wishes me the best for my stay in Bama and leaves me with this: "Nothing against FIU or the city of Miami, but I hope the Tide kills FIU tommorrow".
And who said grandmas can't get pumped for football. Certainly here in Alabama.
What I've noticed so far about this area of Alabama, as opposed to Troy, is that everything is on a hill. Had lunch at a restaurant at the top of the hill. My hotel is at the top of a hill. Espresso at Starbucks is at the bottom of a hill.
FIU has a big hill to climb on Saturday if it plans to upset Alabama and have the city of Miami throw a victory parade on Monday and give the key to the city to MC.
More so now, that the team will not leave Miami until 8 p.m. tonight, because of plane trouble. FIU has had to change airlines too, because the original airline has no other planes available. As if dealing with the No. 4 team in the nation wasn't enough.
As we saw in the game against the Hokies, the Bama O-Line can open holes for Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch to pound the ball on the ground. Upchurch is one tough back to bring down. Did you see the guns on that guy vs. Virginia Tech?
Forget for a second about Tide freshman QB Greg McElroy, who is making just his 2nd start, Ingram and Upchurch are the keys offensively in this game for Bama. If they chew up yardage on the ground and wear out the FIU D, then McElroy might end up looking like the third coming of the Manning brothers (above, right).
Offensively, FIU has to find a way to play keep away from Bama. Darriet Perry, Darian Mallary, Trenard Turner and co. need to have a solid day running the ball and the O-line has to give Paul McCall time. If not it could be a long night similar to the Arkansas game in 2007.
Definitely would help FIU to get some kind of score or big return on special teams from Goodbye or whoever can contribute on ST.
But if Bama has its way along the lines, it won't matter if T.Y. returns 3 kicks for touchdowns. If FIU can't keep up in the battle of the lines this game could be put away by halftime.
GPP thinks: Alabama 48, FIU 13
In case, you missed it in Friday's MH, apparently FIU and UM are talking again about renewing the baseball series and playing a men's basketball game in the 2010-2011 season in the Orange Bowl Classic at the Bank Atlantic Hockey Center in Sunrise. The schools were going to play in this year's OBC, but FIU could not move a Sun Belt game against North Texas on Dec. 14 so the Hooters took FIU's place. As far as baseball, the Hurricanes placed a call to FIU looking for a 2 for 1 deal with 2 games in Coral Gables, but FIU might not agree to that, because they want an equal number of home games in the deal. Stay tuned.
Craig, the owner of Sports Grill at the Hammocks, called me back today and said he won't be able to get the FIU/Alabama game. Craig did say he spoke with the owners of the other 3 Sports Grills and they are all showing the game. The 3 SGs showing the FIU game with NO blackouts are 1) Bird Road and SW 117 Ave.....2) 10005 Sunset Drive.....3) 9300 SW 152 Street.
Puma: Pete, how about an update on how the soccer team. How come they don't schedule tougher teams like some of the ACC powerhouses like Maryland, Wake Forest, UNC, and Virginia? Also, what is the rationale behind the turf at FIU? How much cheaper is the maintenance because in S. Fla. it's just wrong not to play on grass. When will the Rockies go on a losing streak? Doesn't Coghlan deserve Rookie of the Year?
PP: First game of the season and already you hand me a mid-term exam here. LOL. Will look into the soccer sked for you. FIU Stadium is used daily during football season with the Panthers practicing daily on it, plus FIU home games and high school football games on Friday and sometimes on Saturdays when FIU is on the road. The grass would be chewed up by October if the stadium had the natural stuff.
The Rockies don't look like they are going on any losing streak anytime soon. That LoDo magic from 2007 is back for Colorado. Right now, Chris Coghlan (right) is in a 3-way battle with Phillies lefty J.A. Happ and Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson for the National League Rookie of the Year. With Happ being pulled from the rotation, because of injury and Hanson pitching for Atlanta, which is out of the race, Coghlan should be the NL ROY.
FIUer: Pete - why is the Bama game airing on 1080AM and not 790?
FIUPantherFan: Hey Pete, let's give the Bama fans some love. They are trying to set up a fundraiser to help the FIU Cheerleaders...
PP: Read the game notes from FIU/Alabama in Sunday's paper, I will include this in my game notebook that runs along with the game story.
blkpanther: Pete are the volleyball lines on the floor permanent?
PP: From what I was told last night when I was at the volleyball match, no. You have to tip your cap to FIU on the new color of the court -- that new light wood color of the court looks very NBA-ish and the new midnight blue painting of the inside of the arena is a sharp color. The block FIU logo is also an improvement over the Panther that took up most of center court.
Most of you have already made your predictions for Week 1 of the GPP contest, but let's get your pulse on the spread of Saturday's game. At last check, FIU was a 33.5 underdog to Bama. Beat Las Vegas here.....what's the result of the game?