FIU (2-1, 1-0 C-USA) vs Miami (2-1, 0-0 ACC)
Date/Time: Saturday, Sept. 22, 3:30 PM
TV: ESPN2 (Kevin Brown & Andre Ware)
Radio: WAXY 790 The Ticket (A.J. Ricketts & Kenny Kelly)/ WQAM 560 Sports Radio (Joe Zagacki/Don Bailey Jr.)
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL
Betting Line: Miami -26.5 O/U 58.5
All-Time Series Record: Miami leads FIU, 2-0. (Miami won last matchup 23-9 in 2007)
FIU is coming off of its finest performance of the young season with their 63-24 drubbing of UMass. Now the attention turns to crosstown rival Miami.
The theme post-game for the Panthers was loud and clear. They’re out to prove that this isn’t the FIU program of the past.
“This game is an opportunity to show people we’re not the old FIU, we’re going to be locked in and focused,” said Maurice Alexander.
Head coach Butch Davis made clear that quarterbacks James Morgan and Christian Alexander would split reps until either player separated themselves on the field.
While Davis hasn’t officially named Morgan the starter, going into last weeks game Morgan had seen exactly three times the amount of snaps that Alexander had. Coming off his two TD pass performance last week, its fair to assume that he’ll see the Miami game start to finish.
The key for the Panthers to keep this one close will be the run game. Both Shawndarrius Phillips and Napoleon Maxwell had 100-yard rushing days last week and expect to see both along with D’Vonte Price early and often.
The FIU defense is still a work in progress. They undoubtedly had their best game versus UMass. However, they gave up 156 yards on the ground to Minutemen backs. The Hurricane backfield of Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas will be a tough task for the Panther defenders.
Fermin Silva returning from an ankle injury should help their cause and FIU has a bevy of talented defensive linemen lead by DT Anthony Johnson.
Whether or not “The U” are back we’ll have to wait and see. However, there’s no debate about 2018 Hurricane defense.
Players like defensive tackle Gerald Willis III, linebacker Shaq Quarterman and safety Jaquan Johnson have been studs for Miami through the first quarter of the season.
Quarterback Mailk Rosier has been much-maligned by Canes fans throughout his career. A third of the way through his second season as the starter, his completion percentage still hovers around the 51 percent mark. Rosier is cognizant of the fact that the standard is much higher for Miami offense.
“This should be the standard…It shouldn’t be, like, we’re playing Toledo, we’re supposed to beat them. We should go out there and every game put up 35 to 40-plus points. That’s the standard I’m going to set and I’m not going to let it down.”
Expect to see a heavy dose of running backs Travis Homer and the versatile DeeJay Dallas on Saturday to help set up Rosier.
When Rosier has been able to complete passes the majority of targets head towards speedster Jeff Thomas.
The Hurricanes took it on the chin against LSU and didn’t exactly play their best football against Toledo. FIU comes in looking like a team that’s starting to find its rhythm in all three facets of the game.
However, Miami started the season ranked in the top-10 for a reason. FIU had a chance in week one to play up to its competition and couldn’t do so. This may be too much of a leap for the young Panthers.
Final score: Miami 45 FIU 27