Panthers Preparing For 18th Annual Shula Bowl

Senior defensive lineman Teair Tart holding the FIU turnover belt.

Richard Gibson/Staff Writer

FIU is sitting at a 5-4 record with three games left in the season. In order to become bowl eligible for the third straight year, FIU has to win one more game. FIU’s next opponent is the Florida Atlantic University Owls, in what will be known as the 18th Shula Bowl. This matchup has become a tradition, and FIU’s need to win one more game raises the stakes. 

   The annual matchup is named after the legendary head coach for the Miami Dolphins, Don Shula. Both team’s first head coaches had connections to Don Shula- Howard Schnellenberger for FAU, and Don Strock for FIU. The winner of the game gets the Don Shula Trophy for a year until the next game in the series is played.

   Ever since the first matchup in 2002, the series has been mainly won by the Owls. Out of the 17 times, they’ve met, FAU has won 12 of those matchups. FIU won their first Shula Bowl in 2005 and has also won it in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2016. This year’s game will be played at FAU’s stadium in Boca Raton.

   Last year’s game went in FAU’s favor, as they beat FIU by a score of 49-14. FAU’s running back Devin Singletary was the MVP of the game, rushing for 184 yards off of 27 carries, and scored 3 touchdowns. Singletary would go on to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills.

   For FIU, quarterback Alex Morgan threw for 223 passing yards, with 18 completions out of 32 attempts. The two passing touchdowns were caught by wide receivers Bryce Singleton and Austin Maloney. FIU’s defense couldn’t contain Singletary and the rest of FAU’s rushing attack.

   Despite beating FIU, the Owls finished the 2018 season at 5-7 and failed to make a bowl game. FIU would go on to finish the regular season at 8-4 and would beat Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl, winning their second-ever bowl game.

   This season, however, FAU is coming to the game at 6-3. Their victories have come from opponents such as Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, and Western Kentucky. They’ve lost to Ohio State, UCF, and Marshall.

   Even after losing Singletary, FAU’s offense has been explosive, turning to the passing game. Be on the lookout for their tight end Harrison Bryant, who is credited as one of the best tight ends in Conference USA. 

   On defense, FAU has been average, allowing opponents like Ball State to put up 31 points, however holding Old Dominion to just three points. One player on their defense that has thrived, however, is linebacker Rashad Smith.

   Overall, it should be an even game. FAU might have an offensive advantage thanks to their passing game, but FIU’s secondary should prove a difficult challenge. FIU’s coming off a win against Old Dominion, but they only won by a score of 24-17. FIU needs to make adjustments offensively, defensively, and on special teams.

   Both of FIU’s next two games will also be on the road, but they’ll get a week off after the Shula Bowl. FIU’s next opponent will be the University of Miami Hurricanes on November 23rd in Marlins Park. After that, they’ll travel to Huntington, Virginia, to play the Marshall Thundering Herd on November 30th.

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