Malik Rosier and the Hurricanes look to keep things rolling against the Panthers in this matchup of Sunshine State programs
For the first time since the 2007 season, the FIU Panthers and the Miami Hurricanes will play each other on the football field. Of course, most people remember the 2006 brawl between the Panthers and Hurricanes that resulted in 31 player suspensions between the two teams. But the 2007 game didn't have any incidents on the field, as Miami won 23-9.
Both teams will enter this year's contest with 2-1 records. Last week, Miami defeated the Toledo Rockets 49-24, while FIU blew out UMass 63-24.
Saturday's game will mark the third all-time meeting between the Panthers and Hurricanes, with Miami winning the previous two.
Florida International at Miami
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 22 at 3:30 p.m
Spread: Miami -26.5
Three Things to Watch
With the schools being close in proximity, Saturday's game could be emotional for both FIU and Miami. Of course, the 2006 game had 13 players ejected as the Hurricanes won 35-0, so a certain level of emotion is baked into this rivalry.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the two coaches. Butch Davis coached the Hurricanes from 1995-2000 before bolting to the NFL to coach the Cleveland Browns. Earlier this week, Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt said that his team needed to focus on game planning for the game and not on playing against Davis. “It’s like I told the team, there’s going to be a lot of talk about Coach Davis," Richt said on radio station WQAM. “And I told the guys, ‘This man is a great coach and a great person, and they did great things for Miami, the University of Miami football program.’ I said, ‘But we gotta make it about this game and this scheme and this preparation, and we gotta treat it like any other game and make sure we’re focused on the right things.'"
2. FIU's rushing attack
Against UMass last week, FIU was able to rush for 329 yards at an average of 6.2 yards per carry. The Panthers will need to have the running game working well if they're going to upset the Hurricanes.
Through three games, the Hurricanes are 22nd nationally in rushing defense, allowing just a little over 99 yards per game on the ground. The more FIU can run the ball, the more pressure it will take off quarterback James Morgan and the passing game.
3. Malik Rosier
Rosier has been under fire the last few weeks because of his inconsistent play as he completed less than half of his passes and had nearly as many interceptions (two) as touchdown passes (three) in the first two games. But against Toledo last week, Rosier quieted his critics — at least for a week.
In Miami's 49-24 victory, Rosier completed 13-of-23 passes for 205 yards, two touchdowns against zero interceptions. He also rushed for 80 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries.
It is obvious Richt is going to stick with Rosier for the foreseeable future, and the Hurricanes need the senior signal caller to continue to put up performances like the one he enjoyed against the Rockets.
In less than two seasons, Butch Davis has made the FIU football program respectable. But as good as the Panthers are, the Hurricanes have too much depth and talent at all of their skill positions.
Expect to see a lot of Malik Rosier, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer on the ground on Saturday. Then, when the Panthers stack the box, Rosier should be able to throw the ball over the top to his receivers for big plays. Miami should be able to run away and hide from FIU pretty early in this one.
Prediction: Miami 52, FIU 20
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.