Who: FIU Panthers vs UTSA Roadrunners
When: Saturday, October 11 7:00 PM EST
Where: San Antonio, Texas
Television: Fox College Sports
Series: First meeting
UTSA welcomes FIU to San Antonio for a Homecoming matchup that could tilt the Roadrunner's season back in their favor. Coming off a bye week, UTSA will look to get things going quickly and efficiently in front of one of the largest crowds in the conference. Regarding the iffy quarterback situation, head coach Larry Coker has said this week, "Tucker's our starter, but I think you can see, I'd definitely like to play Blake". No matter the choice, they will need to establish the running game with David Glasco II and Jarveon Williams. The two tailbacks have combined for 6 touchdowns this season and should provide the UTSA offense with enough opportunities to be successful. Look for Jens Jeters and Drew Douglas to be the playmakers on defense.
FIU is experiencing its best season since 2011. That year saw the Panthers finish 8-5 with an appearance in the Beef ‘O' Brady's Bowl. For the first time since that remarkable season, FIU can win three games in a row and sport a winning record. Not only would this win give the Panthers great momentum heading into their game against Marshall, but it would also place FIU firmly on the path towards bowl eligibility.
The Panthers only sniff a victory here if their defensive line continues to perform like an amalgamation of fun-sized J.J. Watts. Led by Denzell Perine and Michael Wakefield, the FIU front four has been stout against conference foes so far this season. Perine and Wakefield have already combined for 15.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, but where this defense really shines is in turnovers. FIU has already caused 21 turnovers this season and cornerback Richard Leonard is 9th in the nation with 4 interceptions. Speaking of Leonard, he is fresh off a game that saw the redshirt junior intercept a pass in the end zone and return a fumble 100 yards for a touchdown. To see that Leonard is this game's X-factor, would be putting it lightly.
What To Watch For:
This game is huge opportunity for the true freshman to take the next step against a tough veteran defense. Ron Turner won't place the offensive responbilities entirely on McGough's shoulders, but we can anticipate the playbook opening itself up more as the game progresses.
Don't Stop Defendin'
If UTSA rolls with Tucker Carter, FIU will have to attack the quarterback relentlessly. If they choose to start Blake Bogenschutz instead, they will still have to bring the noise. The Roadrunner offensive line has began to crumble as of late and this could present an easier matchup for the FIU defensive playmakers.
No Weather Zone
FIU has had four games delayed by weather already this season (2-2 in those games). Unfortunately for them, UTSA plays in a dome and averages the second highest attendance in the conference. I expect the crowd to be a factor early.
Ground And Pound
Anthon Samuel and Alex Gardner have to help out their quarterback. A quick lead and an established ground attack should have the Panthers victorious in San Antonio.
Don't kick the ball near him. Don't throw the ball near him. Don't fumble the ball near him. Just watch him. The kid is a play waiting to happen.
This is a truly intriguing matchup. FIU has finally tasted tangible success and can turn the corner on relevancy with a win. UTSA is a loss away from giving up on the season and silencing their own hype. I believe the Panthers stumble out of the gates, but keep it close with a few turnovers. The Roadrunners won't give up easily in their biggest game of the year and pull out a close victory late.