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FIU Football: 5 Takeaways from the 2020 schedule release

After playing eight games in South Florida during the 2019 campaign, the Panthers will be road warriors in 2020.

Miami v Florida International Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Conference USA released its 2020 football schedule on Wednesday afternoon and with that came the full slate of games for the FIU Panthers.

Butch Davis’ team will begin the season against an FCS opponent for the first time since the 2014 season as they welcome Jacksonville State to Riccardo Silva Stadium on September 5th.

Here are five takeaways and key dates from the Panthers’ 2020 schedule.

1. Road Warriors: Since Davis’ first season in 2017, the Panthers have had 25 of 36 regular season contests scheduled in the state of Florida. Which makes it all the more noteworthy that FIU will leave the Sunshine State six times in 2020.

The team has only five home games in 2020, with five out of the first seven taking place away from Riccardo Silva Stadium. The Panthers’ seventh road game is at UCF - a team that hasn’t lost at home in three seasons.

2. Return to the Magic Kingdom: Speaking of the Knights, FIU will play in Orlando for the fourth time in nine seasons. After pulling off an upset victory in the 2015 season-opener, the Panthers have lost the last two meetings, including Davis’ first game at the helm of FIU which was a 61-17 thrashing in 2017.

Florida International v Central Florida
Alex McGough and the Panthers celebrated an upset victory at UCF to open the 2015 season.
Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

In the three seasons since that meeting, Spectrum Stadium has become one of the toughest road environments in college football.

3. Holiday Home Games: Despite FIU’s three-year bowl streak, it's no secret that attendance has been an issue. While Panther diehards won’t be phased by the unique timing, it’s worth noting that two of the team’s five home contests take place on a holiday.

October 31st brings Marshall to FIU on Halloween and the final home game is a November 28th matchup with Louisiana Tech, when many students will be away for the Thanksgiving break.

4. No Cupcakes Allowed: In the previous three seasons, 20 of FIU’s opponents failed to qualify for a bowl in the previous season. How 2020’s opponents fare will remain to be seen. However, at first glance, the Panthers’ slate includes seven teams who went bowling in 2019.

5. Tough Sledding Down The Stretch: Of those seven teams who qualified for a bowl last season, four out of the final five games will be played against those teams. C-USA East heavyweights Western Kentucky and Marshall, reigning division champion Florida Atlantic and a top West division team in La Tech make up a virtual murders’ row of opponents to close the regular season.