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Football GameDay VII; swimming; soccer

WEATHER UPDATE: Dry, cool just before kickoff. The Over should be a steal.

Meant to do this last night after I finished covering the broad, physical foolishness the Jets and Dolphins inflicted on America. Unfortunately, my stay in East Rutherford was extended by a flat tire in a remote auxiliary parking lot. By the time I got back to the Manhattan base, I had time for only a wee hours snack and time to pack before heading for the airport. i slept on the planes.

It’s a drizzly, yucky day in Jonesboro, Arkansas, the kind of day best spent with hot tea tinged with rum and a good book. Not a day for golf, even though I don’t think the heavy stuff’s going to come down for a while. But I can’t help but think of today as FIU’s 10th hole, the first hole after the halfway point of the round.

I also think of it that way because the Panthers have started to resemble more than a few golfers I’ve covered. When I cover a golf tournament, I bounce among groupings, trying to be on the spot when someone makes a run for the top of the leaderboard. It’s a physical – I wind up walking or running several miles per round – but also intuitive way of covering an event. You have to quickly tune in to the vibe of a player and his round.

I often use auto racing terms when discussing or writing about non-auto racing stuff. It’s what you get from an Indianapolis-raised guy who honed his math skills rapidly figuring lap speeds and qualifying run averages (even down to my Hot Wheels – on my Thundershift 500 set, the cars ran 68 mph actual speed). Golfers are on rails (playing well), just turning laps (playing average), suffer a wobble (a tough par preceded or followed by a bogey, could be leading into a…), spin out (a few bogeys putting them several strokes off the pace) and crash (bogey run out of contention).

FIU’s at wobble.

The loss to Lousiana-Lafayette counts as a tough par. I’d score it a bogey, but the Ragin’ Cajuns are tearing through the Sun Belt, 4-0 and 6-1 overall. Obviously, they’re better than most of us thought last month. You know all the qualifiers – FIU was really without its best player (and Lou-La knew it), had a redshirt freshman quarterback for three quarters and were flatter than the stars of the IHOP meal in front of me right now. And they still lost by only 5 to what’s looking like a good team.

The loss to Duke was a bogey. A 10-point lead in the fourth quarter on a team you’ve sat on for two quarters and you give up two gumball machine cheap touchdown drives? FIU’s not Alabama, but that just shouldn’t happen. Granted, Duke’s a tough schematic matchup for FIU, but the Panthers have it over Duke Power’s favorite school athletically. Also, the lead should’ve been bigger.

The win over Akron was a bad par in many ways again already detailed here previously.  

So, the next two on Tuesday, here against Arkansas State and back at Camp Mitch against Troy, feel like the fork in the round. Two wins with the dogged problems – pass defense, red zone offense – corrected and FIU’s back in business on Blue Star. A win and a loss eliminates the margin of error. Two losses and hello wall, good bye this year.

For the preseason edition, I wrote that tonight’s game would be sort of like what happened after you figured out Mattel Football I or II, back in the day. The game got decided by who got the ball first in each half and who scored last in the first half. I see tonight’s game in a similar light.

The line opened with the Red Wolves 2.5-point favorites, now up to 3 or 3.5. Means the FIU money’s run a little stronger, but nothing big. The over/under’s 53 or 52, which as this dried up before kickoff, is an invitation to steal the house’s money.

Arkansas State’s not stupid. They’ll probably attack FIU the same way Duke did, but without the same sophistication in scheme variance. They’ll be successful, too. I don’t see Arkansas State stopping FIU much, either, and I see it happening the same way for the Panthers as the Red Wolves – big plays down the field, although I also see FIU getting in a few more big runs.

FIU’s improved on special teams coverage the last two games, but Mario Cristobal’s worried about the Red Wolves “big speed” and “long speed” on special teams. Now, college coaches have a way of making every opponent sound like the 2001 University of Miami future Pro Bowl roster. Cristobal’s no different, but that’s the first time he mentioned that with an opponent. That concerns him more than some of ASU’s other assets.

Still, this is an awfully tough set up for FIU. I’ll scale back the score from the preseason edition on the weather, but I still see it 35-31 or so for Arkansas State.

But, that’s just one black man’s opinion. I could be wrong.


Sabrina Beaupre has been named Sun Belt Diver of the Week.


FIU goalie Kaitlyn Savage has been named Sun Belt Player of the Week.


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'preciate the analysis DJN

Lets go panthers! big game tonight!

A legitimate question - does it really matter what minor weekday bowl FIU gets or whether they even make it back to the pizza bowl?

Shouldn't they be concentrating on making T.Y. Hilton the best NFL prospect he can be?

T.Y. as a third round pick would surely do more for FIU's recruiting than anything the team could do this year.

Why not force feed him the ball all night against Arkansas Tech?

It's good to see you writing again. However, don't know whether to envy you or feel sorry for you. I mean you get to see football games for a living, but New Jersey (bad) to Arkansas (worse)? Early morning flights? No sleep? Twinkies for dinner? Talk about making the life of a sports journalist sound awful. I used think you guys lived the life! Just one non-black man's opinion. I could be wrong.

All kidding aside, appreciate all your efforts, and continue to say you are the best The Herald has (in all aspects, but mostly as a writer who masters the English language). And ask for a raise (assuming print newspapers start making money again (I still get mine delivered daily!! I'm old school). Look forward to your reporting and blog opinions after the game. Go panthers!

Not happy about tonights game. Our defense was pathetic, we made no adjustments and were getting burned on the same play. Mario needs to be held accountable for this game. We shouldn't be ,losing to teams in the SunBelt, we should be dominating and it is not happening. This game was pathetic, and unacceptable, we should be 6-1 or at worst 5-2.

fiu laid an egg...

lets have a scavenger hunt - go to ESPN's college football page and see if you can find where it says this game happened.

don't worry.

I asked a guy at work today if there were any football games on and he said no. I came across the score tonight while browsing SI.com. Can we please stop with the comparisons to ANY other state school until FIU beats a ranked team?
The Mountain West, C-USA, and the Big East are all looking for new schools to replace the teams that are leaving for greener pastures, and none of these weak conferences are looking to add FIU. The Big East would rather add a team from Idaho than add FIU!
Does anyone know when the new SAT scores or Bar Exam result's are going to be released?? I need a "pick-me-up" right about now!

Does anyone remember the movie "The Warrior's"? If FIU were one of the street gangs from the movie, they would likely be the "Orphan's" gang! The Orphan's (FIU) were not even invited to the big gang summit!


I told ya, fiu would lose! Don't mess with the u again!

fortunately for FIU fans you all live in a parallel future universe anyway, where terrible college football teams "inevitably rise" into powers even though they are a bad team in a worse conference at a commuter school that nobody's heard of with an ugly campus out by the everglades.

how awful the football team is every year has nothing to do with your "inevitable rise", don't worry, as soon as UM gets the death penalty all those great players are going to flock to FIU and you can start winning your championships.

how awful the football team is every year has nothing to do with your "inevitable rise", don't worry, as soon as UM gets the death penalty all those great players are going to flock to FIU and you can start winning your championships.

Posted by: riiiiiiieeeeet? | October 19, 2011 at 09:36 AM

Which great players? The ones currently winning championships at um?

Which great players? The ones currently winning championships at um?

Posted by: TXgoldenpanther | October 19, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Ray Ray
Stop me if you've seen enough...
Jo Jo
With the exception of Jacory every one of the players I just mentioned will be playing on Sunday in the NFL. Sucks to be FIU! NOW GO GET YOUR SHINEBOX TOMMY!!

How many conference championship?

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