Florida International U

Butch Davis Days at FIU starts with a friendly 2017 schedule

A schedule with one FCS foe, only one Power Five conference opponent and home games against two Conference USA East Division favorites greets FIU in Butch Davis’ first season as head coach.
A schedule with one FCS foe, only one Power Five conference opponent and home games against two Conference USA East Division favorites greets FIU in Butch Davis’ first season as head coach. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The schedule for Butch Davis’ first season as FIU football coach, announced Thursday, gives the Panthers a shot at a bowl-level bounce after five consecutive losing seasons.

Only one Power Five conference team, perennial Big Ten also-ran Indiana, dots the schedule. Instead of another Power Five team, as was the case in 2016, FIU returned to its custom of buying an FCS whipping boy. That’ll be Alcorn State in 2017 cast in the role played previously by Wagner and North Carolina Central.

Former University of Miami football coach Butch Davis talks about taking over as coach at FIU during a press conference on Tues., Nov. 15, 2016.

That Sept. 9 home game follows a Sept. 2 season-opening home game against UCF, which has outscored FIU 91-14 in the last two games at FIU Stadium. FIU’s fourth non-conference game, Oct. 14 against Tulane, comes a week before their bye.

Conference USA play starts on Sept. 23 at Rice. FIU gets two of the three projected CUSA East Division contenders -- Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky, Old Dominion -- at home. The Shula Bowl will be Nov. 18 at Florida Atlantic, where Lane Kiffin takes over as head coach.

As far as Davis’ first FIU recruiting class, he appears to have hung onto the commitment from Western defensive end Kevin Oliver, rated at three stars by 247sports.com. Oliver also received an offer from Purdue and North Carolina State among Power Five conferences.

Former FIU tight end Jonnu Smith seems to be impressing some folks up in Mobile at the Senior Bowl.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

Sept. 2: UCF

Sept. 9: Alcorn State

Sept. 16: at Indiana

Sept. 23: at Rice

Sept. 30: Charlotte

Oct. 7: at Middle Tennessee

Oct. 14: Tulane

Oct. 28: Marshall

Nov. 4: Texas-San Antonio

Nov. 11: Old Dominion

Nov. 18: at FAU

Nov. 25: Western Kentucky

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