The battle of the Shula Bowl is scheduled for Friday night at Florida International University in Miami. The Shula Bowl is the name of the rivalry between Florida Atlantic and Florida International. Miami and FIU have always been regarded as a small rivalry, but the competition is so lopsided between those two schools that it’s not much of a rivalry. The brawl in 2006 between the Hurricanes and Panthers on the field is one of the more memorable moments in FIU history, though.
I’m sure that FIU would like a winning product to be memorable, though. They’ve come a long way since then, including going to bowl games, but are going to find it tough to advance further in a highly competitive recruiting market. FIU would like to get to any bowl game in 2020, but that’s not going to happen. There are fewer opportunities with some of the bowls cut off the schedule for the year, and well, the Panthers aren’t a good team.
FIU goes into Friday with a record of 0-3. They came close against Liberty, 36-34, and Middle Tennessee, 31-28, in their first two outings. The effort against Jacksonville State was non-existent, though. They lost 19-10 in a winnable game at home versus an FCS opponent. Jacksonville State isn’t the worst of FCS teams by a long shot, but that’s a game that FIU can’t lose.
Stone Norton was absolutely useless at quarterback, as he went 5 for 14 with 66 yards and 1 touchdown. FIU’s leading rusher, D’Vonte Price, gained 43 yards on 9 carries. I acknowledge a potential lookahead spot against a rival, but maybe the Panthers aren’t a good team.
They need a quarterback. They’ve gone through multiple quarterbacks this season and the result hasn’t been much different. The Owls are 3-1 and have won three games with their defense. Even in their loss against Marshall, 20-9, their defense was tough to penetrate. Head below for our free FAU vs. FIU pick for November 13, 2020.
FAU Owls vs. FIU Panthers NCAAF Betting Odds:
FAU vs. FIU Prediction:
FIU needs to figure out their quarterback situation quickly. They still really don’t know who the starting QB is on their roster. It’s not going to be an easy fix, so figuring it out quickly does not seem feasible right now. The Panthers have rotated between Stone Norton, Kaylan Wiggins, and Max Bortenschlager.
After Wiggins struggled against Middle Tennessee, with 5 completions on 15 attempts for 37 yards, FIU gave Norton more of a chance last week versus Jacksonville State. Yeah, about that chance. Norton was just as bad as Wiggins against an FCS school. He completed 5 passes for 66 yards. Bortenschlager got some playing time, with 2 completions on 5 attempts for 18 yards.
Expecting something different against a solid defense like the Owls doesn’t seem like the most sense. Florida Atlantic has been at peak performance on the defensive side of the ball. Through four games, the Owls have conceded only 317 yards and 11.5 points per game. Their efficiency against the pass has been strong, as they’ve allowed 213.5 passing yards per game.
FIU will feed the backfield often on Friday night. Allowing Norton to fire at will would turn into a disaster. D’Vonte Price will shoulder the load for the Panthers at running back. Price and Shaun Peterson Jr. are the 1-2 punch for FIU, and their most dangerous offensive weapons on the roster. FAU has been effective against the run this season as well. They’ve held teams to 103.5 rushing yards per game.
The Panthers don’t have many other options besides feeding their runners. This isn’t going to be a tough game plan for FAU to close down, at least it shouldn’t be if they are interested in playing tonight. I have more faith in quarterback Nick Tronti leading the Owls to a win in this one.
Tronti has passed for 3 touchdowns and 1 interception on 54% completions. That’s not spectacular, but he won’t have to be special with the FIU offense on the other side. FAU has three solid running backs that they can employ to chew up the clock and win the time of possession battle easily. Expect FAU to take an early lead and rely on their defense in the second half. It should work out for a two touchdown win in favor of the Owls.