For the second time in three weeks, the FIU Panthers football team was badly outscored in the second half of an otherwise competitive game.
On Saturday night, FIU lost 37-7 to rival Florida Atlantic as the Owls outscored the Panthers 20-0 in the second half.
Prior to that, on Oct. 26, FIU lost 50-17 at Middle Tennessee, getting outscored 36-0 in the second half. That still stands as the worst half of football, at least on the scoreboard, in Butch Davis’ three years as FIU’s coach.
Saturday’s loss left FIU with a 5-5 overall record with two games remaining: the Miami Hurricanes at Marlins Park on Nov. 23 and a game at Marshall the following week.
The Panthers, who set a program record for wins last year with a 9-4 ledger, are 3-4 in Conference USA this season. Saturday’s loss eliminated the Panthers from any chance of winning the league title.
FIU was without two standout players on Saturday, running back Anthony Jones, who leads the team in rushing yards (638); and wide receiver Maurice Alexander, who was a first-team all-league punt returner last season.
Those absences surely hurt FIU’s offense. Similarly, in the Middle Tennessee game, Davis said the poor weather in the second half was a major factor.
But, to be fair, both sides had to deal with the adverse weather conditions, and virtually every team deals with injuries.
As for FIU going forward, there are at least three alarming trends to consider during the upcoming bye week:
▪ FIU is 0-4 in road games this season, getting outscored by a combined total of 172-69.
▪ FIU is 0-3 against FAU in the Davis era, getting outscored 138-47.
▪ And while FIU has not been a poor second-half team overall this season, it certainly has been an issue in its two most recent losses, by a cumulative score of 56-0.
The upshot of all of this is that for FIU to be bowl eligible for the third year in a row, the Panthers will have to pull at least one upset. Beating the Hurricanes, who are on a three-game win streak, will be a tall task. But going on the road and beating Marshall (6-3, 4-1) won’t be easy, either.
Meanwhile, FIU’s rival, FAU (7-3, 5-1), leads Conference USA’s East Division as it bids for its second league title in three years.
THIS AND THAT
▪ FAU racked up a season-high 579 yards on offense. FAU sophomore quarterback Chris Robison passed for 298 yards and one touchdown. FAU freshman running back Malcolm Davidson ran for a career-high 153 yards, a career-high three touchdowns and an 8.5 average.
▪ FIU’s lone highlight was senior running back Napoleon Maxwell’s 75-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Maxwell, however, earned just 20 yards on his other 15 carries.
▪ FAU has a 13-4 lead in its annual series with FIU, nicknamed “The Shula Bowl.”