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Don Shula Bowl VIII Preview: Who's Going to Play FIU Volleyball Defense?

Fiu The buses are all gassed up in Boca Raton and Del Boca Vista Phase II as the Hooters prepare to drive down to Miami and FIU Stadium in about 15 hours for Shula Bowl VIII.

Your Panthers are on the prowl looking for payback for last year's 4th quarter.

Your LIVE GPP BLOG of Shula Bowl VIII begins at 6:45 p.m. right here from FIU Stadium on Saturday night.

Fau Good to see the enthusiasm flowing on the GPP and over on Ted's FAU blog. Last year's game took this Shula Bowl rivalry to another level. Whether you were rooting for the Hooters or clawing for the Panthers, last year's game at Dolphin Stadium was a classic and there should be many more games like that in this series in the future....beginning with Saturday's showdown at FIU Stadium.

It's the first Shula Bowl at FIU Stadium since 2005. While FIU Stadium was being built in 2007, FIU hosted the Shula Bowl that year in the Orange Bowl -- which I just got off the phone with the OB and she says from stadium heaven to thank FIU for closing the OB the right way with a win over North Texas.

Back in the 2005 Shula Bowl, FIU tied an NCAA record with 4 interceptions returned for touchdowns and routed the Hooters 52-6. On Saturday it will not be that kind of a rout for the Panthers.Volley

In fact, neither team will win in a landslide, because of their defenses, which brings us to the title of this post.

We'll get back to the Shula Bowl VIII preview in a second, but first let's salute the FIU volleyball team which finished its season 32-4 on Friday with their loss to Florida in the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.

The FIU ladies set a program record with 32 wins this season and were only 1 of 3 teams in the nation to win 30 or more games this season. Only Penn State and Northern Iowa won 30 or more games this season.

And a special salute to FIU's 3-soon-to-be-4-time All-American senior Yarimar Rosa (left), who leaves FIU as the greatest volleyball player in the program's 23-year history. They'll be hanging the No. 3 jersey in Rosa the U.S. Century Bank Arena rafters soon enough.

Back to our Shula Bowl VIII preview. The Hooters and the Panthers bring two of lowest ranked Ds in the Sun Belt and in the nation to FIU Stadium on Saturday. FAU is 7th of 9 Sun Belt teams in total D and FIU is ranked last in total D in the conference. FAU is 6th in points allowed in the SBC. FIU is 8th. So you kind of get where I'm going with this.

Will the final score be an NBA halftime score again? My guess is no, because both offenses do not have all their weapons, but then again they are also facing generous Ds.

So which team's D is going to rise up like the FIU volleyball team did in its match against the crosstown Hurricanes on Thursday? The lady Panthers with their D stopped two match points before eventually eliminating the Hurricanes back to Coral Gables with a loss.

That's what Shula Bowl VIII will come down to. Which defense makes 1 or 2 more stops than the other D.Bryant

There will be plenty of points and yards to satisfy any fantasy football owner that has an FAU or FIU offensive player on their team.

However, you will see that either the Hooters D or the Panthers D will make 1 or 2 crucial stops in the 3rd or 4th quarter to decide Shula Bowl VIII. Maybe it will come when El Oso Scott Bryant (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) makes a tackle to break Keyonvis Bouie's FIU all-time tackles record. El Oso has 296 tackles, Keke has 299. Recently, spoke to Keke and he's proud of El Oso. Keke is a linebackers coach in Pahokee High nowadays.

We can't forget about our final weather forecast of the 2009 season and we can't forget about Jackie, who has never been wrong with the gameday forecasts this season.

Jackie Jackie says this might be her ugliest forecast of the season. You might want to bring an umbrella or a poncho for tailgating time. Jackie is looking at afternoon thunderstorms with a 50% chance of rain.

Jackie says the weather should clear up by halftime with temps in the upper 60's. It's a TV game so halftime is expected to be about 9 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game. TV always slows a game's pace.

Speaking of slow, there will not be any of it when the clock hits 0:00 in the fourth quarter on Saturday, because like 2005, it will be a race to see which Panther gets to the FAU sideline first to carry the Shula Bowl Trophy back across the field to the FIU sideline.

GPP says: FIU 43, Florida Atlantic 38


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