In his first season at FIU, coach Butch Davis led the program to its first winning record since 2011.
Year 2 might prove just how far the program can go.
FIU learned its schedule for the 2018 season Tuesday.
The highlights: a Sept. 1 home opener against Indiana, seven home games overall and a renewed rivalry with the University of Miami.
“This year’s schedule again will be a great test for our program,” Davis said in a release. “The front end of the schedule will be extremely challenging, especially with big games against Indiana and Miami to get us ready for conference.”
The matchup with Miami, which went 10-3 and appeared in the Orange Bowl last season, is the first meeting between the two schools since 2007 and just the third time overall. The 2006 matchup — a 35-0 Hurricanes win — featured a benches-clearing brawl at the Orange Bowl that resulted in 31 suspensions between the teams. That game is set for Sept. 22 at Hard Rock Stadium, sandwiched between a pair of home games against Massachusetts on Sept. 15 and Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sept. 29.
The Panthers will open Conference USA action at Old Dominion on Sept. 8. FIU closes out the year with seven consecutive conference games following its bye: Middle Tennessee (Oct. 13), Rice (Oct. 20), at Western Kentucky (Oct. 27), Florida Atlantic (Nov. 3), at Texas-San Antonio (Oct. 10), at Charlotte (Oct. 17) and Marshall (Oct. 24).
“Having the bye week midway through the year will give us a chance to regroup at the right time and gear up for the second half of the season, especially with three of our last five C-USA games on the road,” Davis said. “We’re going to have to have a good offseason to get us ready.”
The Panthers went 8-5 last season, marking just their third winning season in the program’s 14 years and first since moving to the Sun Belt in 2013.