If two objects fail to move toward each other, can they actually clash? It's a worthy question given the offenses involved in today's contest, which isn't Loser Leaves Town, but would be Loser Leaves FBS if we were playing by English soccer league rules.
To what can we compare FIU, which hasn't scored a point on an FBS foe in over a month, vs. Southern Mississippi, whose last win came 16 games ago or sometime around the time Brett Favre's eligibility expired?
1981 Patriots-Colts? No Tom Brady-Peyton Manning era-defining showdowns in those days. The Patriots won only two games that season. So did their AFC East rivals, the Baltimore Colts -- the two games against New England.
1983 Houston Oilers vs. Tampa Bay? Dubbed "The Repus Bowl" by Sports Illustrated, fodder for the brilliant sports comic strip Tank McNamara, at least both teams came in with 1-11 records. Tampa Bay won 33-24.
This game does match the No. 123 (out of 123) FIU offense against the No. 118th ranked offense of Southern Mississippi. At least with Tropical Storm Karen idling in the Gulf of Mexico like your grandmother insisting on parking finding a spot no farther than six spots from the mall door, the weather looks like it won't add to each team's scoring troubles. The forecast is for a high of 89 degrees, isolated thunderstorms, 30 percent chance of rain. Otherwise, we'd be looking at a game decided when one quarterback sees his pass blown back into his hands and he's tackled for a safety: 2-0.
I asked a couple of players what the team leaders have done to keep the team from crashing over the last two weeks. That's a long time to have the zero size of 72-0 at the top of your team resume.
"Energy in practice. Having fun," quarterback Jake Medlock said. "We were thinking way too much. You can see the first four weeks, we were thinking too much. Last week, we came out and had fun. Today, you could tell we're having fun again and we're executing. Instead of stressing, worrying about making a mistake -- if you make a mistake, you make a mistake, it's part of the game. You come back and learn from it. This was one of our better practices we've had all year."
As for Southern Miss, "We've both had long losing streaks, but we look at it as we're 0-0. It doesn't matter what the record is, right now we're 0-0 going into conference."
(Medlock and Southern Mississippi middle linebacker Alan Howze are practically related -- Howze dates Medlock's fiancee's best friend.)
Defensive lineman Greg Hickman said, "Most of the team leaders live together in the dorms and we had our own leader meetings lately. We've just been relaying the message of how important it is to finish these last eight games as strong as possible. We've been trying to make practice more fun so everybody can be into it."
Elaborating on it, Hickman said, "You get in a stretch of the season, your body's getting tired. We're just coming out, talking trash to each other, trying to bring enthusiasm back so everybody can get their mind off their soreness and on preparation."
I asked him how much they looked at the Louisville game film. Hickman said he'd just watched it again to remind himself how it felt and that he never wanted to feel that way again.
Southern Miss is no Louisville. The Golden Eagles turn the ball over -- a lot. They committed three turnovers at Boise State and improved their turnovers per game average to 3.75. They fumble the ball -- a lot. The Golden Butterfingers have 10 fumbles this season and lost five, although four were in one game against Texas State. They throw interceptions -- with alarming frequency. And the Golden Eagles' 10 interceptions are spread evenly, with no game featuring less than two. When they hear "something's got to give," they apparently believe it's implied that "something" is "Southern Miss."
I don't like either team's ability to run the ball, although FIU likely will insist on trying right into the fourth quarter because this game will be close. I follow the old W.C. Fields line "If at first you don't succeed, try try again. Then, quit -- there's no point in being a damned fool about it."
Southern Miss has players banged up while FIU's getting healthier coming off its first of two bye weeks this season. And those turnovers...feels like there's a pick six or a scoop-and-score in there for FIU somewhere.
I'll stay with my preseason pick of FIU. But I'm saying 17-10.
But that's just one black man's opinion. I could be wrong.
SWIMMING & DIVING
The first swim meet of the season -- and the last home swim meet until Dec. 19 -- is today, noon, at the Biscayne Bay campus against FAU. They show up for everybody else's meets and games. They deserve a few folks schelpping over to show up for theirs.