FIU prepares for its first season in C-USA

Starting on July 1 of this year, FIU joined Conference USA in all sports, along with eight other universities. This brings the total number of members in C-USA to 16. The Panthers also go into the fall with the third hardest schedule in the conference and 88th hardest in the nation, according to ESPN. With the football program already starting a new era under new head coach Ron Turner, what should we expect to see from some of the opposing teams facing the Panthers this season?

On Oct. 5 FIU will face Southern Mississippi who are coming into the 2013 season with a major chip on their shoulders. The Eagles went a forgettable 0-12 last year.

With two defensive players on the Athlon’s preseason list for C-USA, look for them to exploit the youth in the offensive line for the Panthers when the team goes to Hattiesburg for their first C-USA contest.

Next up for the Panthers is the Homecoming game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Oct. 12, who only won three games throughout the 2012 campaign. Running back Darrin Reaves and Punter Hunter Mullins lead the team as the Blazer representatives on the Athlon’s list going into the fall. The running back comparison between the two teams is almost even, but the Blazers hold an advantage in the special teams category.

Redshirt freshman Chris Ayers and Sergio Sroka look to fill shoes of FIU record holders Josh Brisk and Jack Griffin respectively. With the weak showing the pair had in spring practice, it is necessary that in the remainder of the summer and into the fall practice, the pair must grow into their roles.

On Oct. 26, Louisiana Tech will roll into town, a team that posted a 9-3 record last season. When the program decided to hold out from a regular bowl game to wait and see if they would get a BCS bowl game it was a risky choice, many people thought that the Bulldogs would partake in the Discover Orange Bowl but it did not come to pass.

East Carolina is next up for FIU, a team who boasted an 8-5 record last season which ended in a loss to the University of Louisiana in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. In Athlon’s all Conference-USA 1st and 2nd team selections, the Pirates are tied for second with seven players selected.

The second match up in November for the Panthers will be the Middle Tennessee State University. The Blue Raiders are another 2013 addition to C-USA and familiar to the Panthers from the Sun Belt. In their last season in the SBC, they Raiders went 8-4 and looked primed for a bowl game until a last game loss to SBC Champions Arkansas State 45-0.

FIU will then take its first and only trip to Texas when they play against the University of Texas at El Paso. The team that went 3-9 last season has the 97th hardest schedule in the nation, out of 126 teams, according to ESPN. However, they are in the middle of the pack for the new C-USA, with nine of the other 18 teams having easier schedules than them. The Miners also go into the fall with five members on the Athlon’s all Conference-USA preseason list, which is four more than the Panthers.

On Nov. 23 FIU will return back to Miami to face Marshall University. The Thundering Herd is one of the few teams that the Panthers will be facing that had a below even record at the finish of the 2012 season. However, the past is the past, especially for the Herd. With eight players selected to the preseason all-conference team by Athlon’s, they lead the pack. The Herd were a pass first offense last season with an average of almost 120 more passing yards per game than their opponents.

FIU will then wrap up the 2013 season on the road against Florida Atlantic University. The Owls are another team that joined C-USA on July 1. Our northern neighbor in Boca Raton are joining us a year earlier than expected, leaving the Sun-Belt conference. In their last season in the SBC, the Owls tied with our football program with three wins and nine losses. They also tie with the Panthers in number of players selected to the Athlon’s all conference list, only a single player in Tight End Nexon Dorvilus.

About the Author

Rhys Williams
: Sports Director, Class of 2016, Physical Education: Coaching (Major), Communication Arts (Minor), Sports Enthusiast with a Focus on Football and Track & Field.

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