The game against Miami this weekend will be the second of a three-game series scheduled between the two schools in 2012 with the final game taking place next year. FAU and Miami both have ties to Howard Schnellenberger as he is credited for building both programs when he was the head coach. The fact Miami will actually be visiting FAU Stadium in front of what will be about 30,000 people in a jam packed stadium is unfathomable considering where this school was at 15 years ago.
On September 1, 2001 Florida Atlantic University played their first game as a I-AA independent against Slippery Rock at Pro Player Stadium, (now currently Sun Life Stadium where the Miami Hurricanes play), in front of over 25,000 fans. Led by Howard Schnellenberger, FAU lost 48-7. However, the result of the game was insignificant. What mattered most was that FAU now had a football team.
Four years later, FAU would make the jump from I-AA to the Sun Belt. Their home would no longer be the mammoth NFL venue that is Pro Player Stadium in Miami, but rather the dilapidated high school venue in Fort Lauderdale called Lockhart Stadium. In FAU's first year as a Sun Belt member, the Owls would go on to win eight games, including a New Orleans Bowl victory over Memphis. FAU became the youngest program to go to, and win a bowl. The Owls would follow that feat with a Motor City Bowl victory over Central Michigan. In seven years, FAU went from playing their first ever football game, to winning back-to-back bowl games.
Fast forward seven years, and things have changed for the FAU football program. The Owls haven't had a winning season since their 2008 Motor City Bowl over Central Michigan. They are now under their third head coach in program history with Charlie Partridge, and perhaps most importantly, have had an on campus stadium since 2011.
On Friday night, FAU will have the privilege in hosting their first P5 team at FAU Stadium when Miami (FL) comes to town. The school has canceled classes after 1 PM for the game. There will be tons of recruits in attendance. All eyes will be on FAU. For a program that hasn't had much spotlight in recent years, this game will provide everything and more.
15 Years ago FAU just wanted to play football. Now, they will showcase their beautiful stadium against an historical Miami Hurricanes football program in a nationally televised game, with a chance to display to the world what is beginning to become.
FAU has already won. The only question that remains is if Miami will lose.