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Five things we know about FIU Football at the midway mark

1. FIU might be the most complete team in the Sun Belt, and will remain in the conference title conversation the rest of the way. Crazy as it may seem for a program that had won seven total SBC heading into the year, but the stats don't lie. FIU is the only team that ranks in the top half of the conference in total offense (4th, 368.8 ypg) and total defense (1st, 340.7).

2. Wesley Carroll has got it going lately. After struggling his first three games at FIU, the redshirt junior has completed 58 percent of his passes for 619 yards and two touchdowns in the last three, throwing just one interception in that stretch. And with the FIU running game now clicking, Carroll doesn't have to carry to the team for the Panthers to win. It's a good formula.

3. That being said, don't start polishing those conference title rings quite yet. Yes, the Panthers are 2-0 in the conference, but those wins have come against teams that are a combined 1-12 this year. We know FIU can beat the bad teams. But how about the good? After the bye awaits FAU (1-4, 0-2), which always plays FIU tough, and then the Panthers play five of the conference's six best teams to finish out the season. A good test will be Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 6.

4. Without doubt, the Panthers will need their special teams to win a close game for them at some point this year. Which means, T.Y. Hilton will probably need to take over a game at some point. While Hilton has scored on offense the last two weeks, he's been conspicuously quiet in the return game. The Panthers rank eighth in the conference, averaging 18.3 yards per kickoff, and manage just 6.1 yards per punt return.

5. FIU's brutal non-conference schedule, although great for giving the team national exposure, may in the end cost the program a bowl bid this year. The 0-4 start against nothing but BCS conference competition has made the math awfully tough for FIU to get to seven wins, which Sun Belt schools most certainly will need to go bowling. Six and six likely won't get it done, because all the .500 teams from the major (and other mid-major) conferences will earn a spot before it goes to an SBC representative. Comes down to dollars and cents. So unless 6-2 captures the Sun Belt's automatic bid, FIU likely needs to go 7-1 in conference to earn the team's first bowl berth.

CLARIFICATION: NCAA rules state that any 7-5 team from a conference will receive a bowl berth ahead of any 6-6 team from the same conference, regardless of where they finish in the conference standings. So, FIU could finish 6-2 in the Sun Belt, yet still be the third option for a bowl. If Middle Tennessee goes 6-2 in the Sun Belt, it would be 7-5 overall, and get the bid. More unlikely, but still possible: If ULM beats LSU later in the year, the Warhawks could still go 5-3 in the Sun Belt and finish 7-5, beating out 6-6, 6-2 FIU. Of course, we're getting way ahead of ourselves, but just wanted to set the record straight.

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Not ready to get excited about wins over what some would say are the worst times in college football. I would rather post this after Troy, Midd Tenn and FAU wins..teams we haven't beaten under Mario's watch. Let's kept things in perspective and not take the UM fan approach..after you beat FAMU, you claim to be #1.

**worst teams

I agree about not going overboard and start talking about bowl games, but a 6-6 team could get into the Little Ceasers bowl with a 6-6 record if there are not enough bowl eligibile teams from the Big 10 conference to fill up all their contractred bowl games, being that the SBC is the first option at the little Ceaser Bowl. But again, lets just worry about healing up this week and focusing on beating those Owls from Boca in two weeks.

good write up justin. very nice perspective... my meter stick though is FAU... we ALWAYS struggle against FAU... but they are in a down year.. if we can go in there and dominate.. then i would consider FIU has turned the corner till then.. we cant get ahead of ourselves

It is great that we are in the bowl conversation, but this happened at the beginning of 2009 too, so let's not let our heads get too big. We need to focus on FAU, and we need to focus on playing technically sound football. No penalties, no lapses, we have the talent, now they just need to play smoothly. Let's try to get to 4-4 leading into the Troy game, as that could very well determine the season.

One game at a time....
Despite a 2-4 start the season is very much alive...and yes our wins are against teams that are 1-12..but, they have been dominating wins (with strong defensive performances) and that is something we haven't seen at FIU in quite sometime.
WC has shown that when allowed (MD, UNT, TexasA&M) to sling it, he can get it done. His ooc perfomances including the half against Rutgers are the best ooc performances of any QB in our history!!
That was a 200+ performance if he had finished it.
I can't imagine why our coaches ever thought there was a QB competition, WC has scrambled well, avoided multiple sacks with his speed and athleticism, and is out infront of the RB's trying to block!

Our Panthers need the support and encouragement now more than ever. 7-1 is really possible!!!
Just take it one game at a time!
Go panthers.

Happy at the teams improvement, but still wary of giving them too much credit. TY has to catch balls that come his way. The drop that was definitely a touchdown wasnt the first drop of that kind he's had this season. That couldve been the deciding play of the game. Still, he's been getting hot these last few weeks.

Something I noticed while watching the UNT game. Their homecoming had about 10 people in the stands. I thought FIU was bad, but wow that was terrible. I felt bad for them.

Im very excited and can clearly see us going 6-6, but 7-5 would be simply amazing. I don't know if we can pull out 7 wins from Sunbelt play but they will go down trying. Non of us (including me) thought the baseball team was going to win it all specially after they lose their first game, and are ONLY one game away from going home. But a couple games later and a historical "hit streak" and we are Sunbelt Champs. I know speed is not everything but if this was track we would clean house against the rest of the other teams.. Keep it up.

Go FIU!

The second half of the conference schedule is the more difficult part but if they perform like they did against North Texas they could win it outright. One game at a time though I hope they can beat FAU the same way they beat North Texas.

6-6 or 7-5 would be a huge success after starting 0-4.

I agree that it is too early to talk about anything but FAU; however, I did want to make one point of clarification. The Sun Belt has two Bowl tie-ins, the New Orleans Bowl and the GMAC Bowl played in Mobile which has recently had a sponsership change to GoDaddy.com.

And jcalex reminds us that the Little Ceasers Bowl has the Sun Belt as a first option (so that's a third bowl possibility). Therefore finishing 6-6 and second in the conference will assure us a bowl game. 6-2 in conference play may mean a tie with someone, so it depends on that head-to-head as to whether FIU goes bowling.

OK, enough of that, back to FAU.

FIU Nation I love the positive vibe but how can we talk about post season when our next opponent is FAU and they own us? We have never beaten them (the one win was negated due to violations). If we beat FAU then maybe I will be a believer.....maybe.

Once again, FIUFan, you are right. A Sun Belt team (not talking about FIU necessarily) that finishes 6-6 could very well end up in the second "guaranteed" (tie-in) bowl that the Sun Belt has an agreement with. (NO Bowl or the godaddy.com Bowl). Then, as jcalex22 so aptly discussed, the Sun Belt has the first right as an at large team in the Little Ceasars Bowl, if there are not enough Big 10 schools that can fulfill their slot.

So no, the fact a Sun Belt team (again, not talking about FIU, but SBC team in general) ends up 6-6 do not mean it's most certainly not making it to a Bowl game. On the contrary, if a Sun Belt team ends up going 6-2 and ends up in second place in the SBC race, it has a GUARANTEED spot in either the NO Bowl, or the Mobile Alabama Godaddy.com Bowl. Then, there would be another possibility (granted, not guaranteed, but still a possibility) that a 3rd Sun Belt team with at least 6 wins, could make it into the Littel Caeasars Bowl.

FIU beat a couple of junior high teams compared to beating an actual college football team. Mario is going to have to do more than beat teams with no caliber. If we do manage to go 6-6, its still time for a change at HC. Its all about production and we haven't had any.

I think Collins would make a good HC for us! At least he's got the defense going and has actually been a coordinator!

They're not kicking to TY. That's why he's been "quite" on the special teams end.

Chill with the bowl talk please and thank you... were still two games below .500

You know shnelly is going to try and save his season and possibly his job against us.
MC you have all the pieces to make it happen.
1. Two weeks prep.
2. Better defense (yds/game)
3. Better skill players
4. More speed

Question is are YOU good enough. I hope you are. Great coaches are nearly unbeatable when given an extra weeks prep. Lets make it happen! Go Panthers.

You little girls know nothing about football, FIUs smallest player will step on your like a roach.

you*

Im pretty sure that was not Coach Cristobal, but it was a nice try. I think the entire coaching staff has done a very good job this year (except against Rutgers). I blame that lose to the coaches and their decision making in the 4th qrt.

Cristobal will have another Top Sunbelt recruiting class. Probably pick up one or two Top 150 players and get a little closer to a Sunbelt Championship. The OC, and the DC have been earning their pay and then some.. Keep it up.
As for Bowl talk, I think we need to save that for when we can beat FAU next week and win our Homecoming game the week after. If we are 4-4 then we migt be able to start dreaming and making travel plans for Dec.

Even though i won't be able to make the FAU game I hope FIU fans make the trip to the mouth of the rat next week. I would be nice to see at least 10K FIU fans out there.

Go Golden Panthers!

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