Pride at stake for FIU Panthers, Florida Atlantic


Regardless of their trying tribulations this season, FIU and FAU are primed to end their regular seasons on a high note on Friday.

FIU head coach Ron Turner in the first quarter during the FIU Panthers against UCF Knights football game at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
FIU head coach Ron Turner in the first quarter during the FIU Panthers against UCF Knights football game at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
Al Diaz / Staff photo

There’s something more than the Shula Bowl trophy on the line Friday night in Boca Raton when FIU plays FAU for the 12th time.

A win for FAU and the Owls become bowl eligible after abrupt changes at the head coach and defensive coordinator positions eight games into the season. An FIU victory would salvage some regional pride in a season stuffed with humiliation.

“It’s the biggest game of the year no matter what our season came down to,” FIU fifth-year senior middle linebacker Markeith Russell said. “Whether it was an undefeated season or as bad as it could be right now. We’re just honing in and telling the young guys, ‘Think back to your high school days, when you played the last four years of grade school and you were that hyped up for that district game.’”

The battle for the Shula Bowl suffered clinical death with FIU moving to Conference USA, FAU remaining in the Sun Belt Conference and no future nonconference games planned. The Panthers claimed permanent possession of the trophy and swaggering rights after a 34-24 win at FAU Stadium.

But the hurricane winds of conference change blew the week after that game. Conference USA officially lost Tulane and East Carolina to the Big East in 2014. C-USA predictably invited FAU and Middle Tennessee State to join, and both decided not to wait for 2014. They jumped out of the Sun Belt to C-USA in 2013.

FAU, winners of only two of its first eight games before coach Carl Pelini and defensive coordinator Pete Resktis lost their jobs after accusations of drug use, are on a three-game winning streak and 27 1/2-point favorites over FIU.

Only winless Southern Miss fell to FIU this season.

Interim FAU head coach Brian Wright and FIU coach Ron Turner both know the result can allow them to deeper dip in the well of Florida recruiting.

“When we won against South Florida it was huge,” Wright said. “We had some of the guys that weren’t quite sure they were interested in Florida Atlantic all of a sudden answering our phone calls. So, I think it is big any time you can have success against an in state rival.”

Read more FIU stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Gang tackle:</span> FIU’s Richard Leonard (3) and Anthony Wint (53) take down Pitt wide receiver Manasseh Garner during the football game last Saturday.

    FIU football

    FIU Panthers linebackers fulfilling early promise

    The game film says Louisville likes to attack the edges in the run and the pass. That’s where FIU football junior Michael Wakefield and redshirt junior Denzell Perine earn their scholarship and unlimited snack money.

  • FIU football

    FIU to start freshman Alex McGough at QB again

    FIU coach Ron Turner confirmed freshman quarterback Alex McGough would start for the third consecutive game Saturday against Louisville. But as for junior E.J. Hilliard getting his turn during each of the final three quarters, as he did by plan in each of FIU’s last two games?

An second floor view of the east half of FIU Arena court Monday afternoon. Some of the dents appear as small scratches from above.

    Fitness event damages FIU basketball court

    A weekend fitness competition broke the beach-themed FIU Arena court that FIU volleyball, women’s basketball and men’s basketball teams call home.

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category