The Owls will be fighting the Golden Panthers in the Orange Bowl to keep the Shula Bowl Trophy home at the Oxley.
Last week "the Swamp" of Gainesville provided a nice threat for Owl fans and players, but this weeks stage should be an even better setting as we will be playing in a very nostalgic Orange Bowl, where Howard was the pioneer of building the mystic of a place that held a certain aromatic feel that had an effect on how opposing teams played.
It could be said that it is the "house that Howard build" and what a more fitting way then to have Howard bode a farewell to the "Grand Old Lady", then by roaming the sideline coaching a team trying to establish itself it the realms of a landscape full of traditional powers, much like the early years of the Miami Hurricane where the Canes had to earn their way to becoming a player within that scene in its quest of becoming a national power itself.
The stage will be set on Saturday for an in-state rivalry game with some similarities as 2003, where the Owls had to beat the Golden Panthers to earn their first trip to the post season play, now the Owls find themselves in a position where they must beat the Golden panthers for a chance at a post season play. A win on Saturday will not guarantee anything, but will put the Owls one step closer to fulfilling a dream of playing in their first Bowl game.
Anytime you face a winless team, you must be careful because the streak must end at one point especially one that has grown to 22 straight losses and the Owls will be facing a team that is starting to play better as of late, now becoming a dangerous team for a team that has played just good enough to win games during conference play.
What the Owls will need to do, to earn a victory in the Orange Bowl on Saturday night?
On Offense: Get off to a good start. You look at the group of players on offense in Gentz, Harmon, Rose, Pierre, Bonner and Rusty, with that line-up on the field you should be able to create enough mismatches for the opposing defenses to defend and be able to take advantage and generate a high powered offense, yet it just has not materialize this season on a consistent enough basis. Establishing a running game is an important part of this offense and the Owls should have much better luck doing so this week and with the receivers doing a much better job, they should continue to be a productive unit for Rusty.
On Defense: Limit big plays. The DL has been plagued with injuries all season, but should have an easier time creating some havoc in the back field this week. They will be facing another good running QBYounger, but he does have a tendency to turn the ball over, so we will need to apply constant pressure on this young QB.
Overall: This is game the Owls should win and win easily; the Golden Panther turn the ball over and the Owls have been feasting on turnovers all season long: FIU have a turnover ration of -16 compared to the Owls +16. The Owls have too much fire power for this struggling team and it will be important for the Owls to come out prepared and take care of business early and finally learn to finish an opponent when it has the chance and not let a team hang around to make big plays that will make a battle out of a scrimmage.
Prediction: FAU 41 FIU 17 The Owls take care of business and join their Coach at mid field for his final farewell to the" Grand Old Lady".