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FIU/Florida Preview: Driving Home, Not Walking

OCALA -- On Friday, FIU was 2 for 2 with wins in volleyball and basketball. The FIU volleyball ladies reached the Sun Belt Conference Championship match against Middle Tennessee at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The FIU men's basketball team defeated North Carolina Central 83-73 and play again on Sunday against James Madison at 6 p.m. at the Bank. So now it's time for your Panthers football team to make it a 3 for 3 Walk weekend by defeating the defending national champion and No. 1 ranked Florida Gators.

At the same time an FIU win over UF would make me walk home from Gainesville to Miami as I have said I would do if one of the greatest upsets in college football history happens at the Swamp on Saturday afternoon. My brother, a UF grad, is ready to drive home the rental car.

Met some new friends here in Ocala at a local restaurant and bar, who immediately jumped to conclusions about Miami when they learned yours truly was from there. One of the ladies said "so do you all carry guns down there because everybody is always shooting at everybody". Not necessarily, darlin'.

Similar to our Nashville friends from a couple of weeks ago, our new friends here in Ocala have also been watching too many Miami Vice re-runs or CSI: Miami. Their perceptions are somewhat skewed.

What is not skewed is the outlook for Saturday's game between FIU and Florida. One team is building for the future, is not big enough right now, is battered injury-wise and still needs to recruit a hell of a whole lot of talent to get to where they want to get -- which is a championship level program.....but enough about the Gators.

OK, just kidding. I was talking about FIU in the previous paragraph. If the Panthers can muster the type of Ellingson effort they put out against Alabama [like Greg Ellingson for 6, photo right] in the season opener way back more than 2 months ago, then Saturday's game could be more interesting than many, including Las Vegas think (FIU is a 45-point underdog).

I think the big thing for FIU on Saturday is to somehow get its running game going with the combo of Kendall Berry, Daunte Owens, Darian Mallary and Wayne Younger. If the Panthers can run the ball somewhat, then they have a chance to shorten the game and who knows maybe breakoff a run here and there.

If FIU is forced by UF to throw too much and result in several 3-and-outs on offense then watch out, because it could be a long day in the Swamp.

Defensively, it's pick your poison for the Panthers. I'd say stop the UF run and make Tim Tebow beat you with the weak link receivers -- as Joe Goodman put it -- that the Gators have. Similar to the game plan last week with Riley Dodge of North Texas, except that the Gators are the NFL team from Texas -- the Dallas Cowboys (when the Cowboys are good) compared to the Mean Green.

Jackie The strength of the UF offense is the run. FIU should try and neutralize that or even take it away.

Of course, for all this to happen FIU has to play a perfect game -- one they have not played before at any point this season. It's a tall order for the Panthers and I don't think they have enough to be ready for what awaits them on Saturday.

Speaking of perfect or close to it, Jackie (left) tells us the weather in Gainesville has a chance to be close to perfect on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff. Jackie is calling for 74 degrees with mostly cloudy skies, but 0% percent chance of rain for kickoff with relative humidity in the 60's. 

Still, with the pleasant forecast from the pleasant Jackie, there's just too much stacked against FIU for the Panthers to pull off what would be one of the greatest upsets in the history of college football.

I'm driving the rental back home with my bro in the passenger's seat.

If for some reason, I'm proven wrong then just shout at me down the Turnpike toward Miami.

GPP says: Florida 56, FIU 10

Aaapaw GPP LIVE BLOG of the FIU/Florida game begins at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday and I'll be with you until the end of the game thanks to the deadline friendly kickoff time.

Aaapaw GPP LIVE BLOG of the FIU/James Madison hoops game on Sunday from the Bank begins at 5:45 p.m.



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