2019 Shula Bowl | FIU vs FAU | November 9th, 2018

2019 Shula Bowl

Boca Raton, FL – The 2019 Shula Bowl had implications for days. Besides bragging rights, both squads were still mathematically in the running for a chance at the Conference USA title. Despite FIU‘s terrible start, had they ran the table, along with some help from other teams, they could’ve snuck into the title game. FAU came into the game #2 in the Conference USA West Division, behind Marshall, but surpassed them in the standings with a better conference record after defeating FIU 37-7. 

The Owls have been the dominant program in this rivalry, winning 13 of their 18 competitions, including this weekend’s win. FAU head coach Lane Kiffin now holds a 3-0 lead in the head-to-head matchups vs FIU head coach, Butch Davis. That doesn’t fare well for a program trying to gain boosters and improve fan attendance at their games. 

It’s been a rough year for the Panthers. After some lofty expectations, FIU finds themselves with a  5-5 record on the season thus far, and 3-4 in Conference USA. The Panthers only need one more win to reach bowl eligibility for a 3rd straight year, which will be a first for the program, but with the Canes and Marshall waiting after the bye week, it looks like an uphill battle. 

The story of the game highlighted FAU freshman RB, Malcolm Davidson. He burned the Panthers for 144 yards rushing and a season-high three touchdowns on 17 carries. He was voted as the Shula Bowl MVP. There really was no other choice. 

The game was relatively competitive in the 1st half. FAU got off to a 10-0 lead in the 1st quarter. In the Panthers’ 1st possession of the 2nd quarter, Napoleon Maxwell put the squad on his back, breaking off a 75-yard touchdown to bring the game to 10-7. It was only 13-7 going into the half, which ended on a bad note for the Panthers when Punter Alec Hallman mishandled a hold on a Borregales field goal attempt, and for some reason decided to throw it straight to FAU DT, Meiko Dotson. It should’ve been 13-10 at the half. 

However, in the 2nd half, the Panthers came undone. The Owls scored on their opening drive, then recovered an FIU fumble and scored again. FIU couldn’t stop the run, which opened up the passing game. FAU QB, Chris Robison was 22-of-37 for 298 yards and one touchdown. Davidson scored two of his three touchdowns in the 2nd half as well. 

After the game, coach Davis told us that the game came down to turnovers and not converting enough 1st downs. The Owls converted 30 1st downs, compared to FIU’s 16. He said you can’t make those kinds of mistakes and expect to beat good football teams. On the offensive front, the offensive line is as depleted as they come. They’ve got guys on the O-line playing positions they’ve never played before. Not to mention that Shane McGough and Dallas Connell are both having to switch positions between Center and Guard depending on who’s healthier. Outside of that, James Morgan hasn’t looked right since his knee injury. 

FIU Football’s Head Coach Butch Davis after falling to FAU Football 37-7.

Posted by Lemon City Live on Saturday, November 9, 2019

If the Panthers are going to reach a 3rd straight bowl game, they’re going to have to play their best football of the season against the red-hot Miami Hurricanes and a dominant Marshall squad who also beat FIU last season. Marshall ruined the Panthers’ chances at a Conference USA championship game appearance last season. It would be nice to reach a bowl game on a revenge win, ruining their chances to reach the chip this season. 

FIU leaves the 2019 Shula Bowl going into a bye and awaits to face the Miami Hurricanes on November 23rd from Marlins Park.

📸Credit: Albert Palacio

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