Miami, FL – What if I told you that up was down, left was right, day was night, and FIU beat the Miami Hurricanes on the gravesite of the Orange Bowl? Wait, what?! That’s right. “You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.” Last season, the Panthers played the Canes at Hard Rock Stadium for the 3rd edition of the “Made-in-Dade rivalry”, and would end up falling to the Canes 31-17. Round four was a different story, however. There’s one truth about being a big brother, and that’s if you don’t get creative, your little brother will inevitably catch up, and maybe surpass you.
The point spread going into this game was 20.5 in favor of the Canes. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure you first have to score that many points in order to win by that many points. FIU held Miami to 24 points. The Panthers scored 30, which is one-point shy of what the Canes scored against them last season. Up is down, left is right, day is night. And for now, FIU runs the 305. This is without a doubt the biggest win in program history for the FIU Panthers.
#PanthersWin!@FIUFootball defeats @CanesFootball 30-24 on the former grounds of the Orange Bowl. This is without a doubt the biggest win in program history. #FIUvsUM #BattleForThe305 #MagicCityMelee #PawsUp #GoCanes pic.twitter.com/B2zE5vgDzg
— Lemon City Live (@LemonCityLive) November 24, 2019
Preparation was the name of the game tonight. The Panthers simply had a better game plan. They knew exactly what the Canes were going to do from the very beginning of the game. Panthers were jumping routes, clogging up lanes, and making life impossible for Canes QB, Jarren Williams, who ended the game with three interceptions. FIU, MLB, Sage Lewis recorded one of the interceptions. When asked about what this win means to the school, Lewis said that FIU “is the true Miami school” and that throughout the week, they referring to UM as the “University of Coral Gables”.
Lewis, Anthony Jones, and Jose Borregales are all from Miami, and they described what this win means for them. Jose, who scored 12 of FIU’s 30 points, said that, “Any player that played football down here in Miami, that maybe was overlooked, just having that chip on your shoulder, beating a team, I think I speak for everyone (who played football) in Miami, that that used to be my dream school…beating them today was like, yeah, we did it.”
James Morgan, who threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns, was recently invited to the East/West Shrine Game. He’ll be heading to another bowl game, and after tonight’s big win, he’ll certainly have plenty more eyes looking at him. I asked coach Butch Davis what tonights win means for players hoping to play on Sunday’s in the NFL. He said, “We’ve had all 32 (NFL) teams, and I would say that probably at least 25 of them have been to our practices more than four times. For the 1st time we’ve got a group of senior kids that have kind of laid the foundation for this program and a lot of the pro scouts have come in and they’ve wanted to watch these kids, and tonight was a big showcase for a lot of these to show how can you play on a level that maybe people don’t think you can play at.”
Seniors, Anthony Jones, Tony Gaiter, Sage Lewis, Stantley Thomas-Oliver III, and James Morgan all had great games, and they’ll certainly have more NFL eyes on them as they move onto bigger and better things.
The win was FIU’s 1st win against a “power-five” conference team, and this specific win can have huge implications moving forward. The Miami Hurricanes can’t afford to lose any more recruits than it already does. With the emergence of football programs such as UCF, USF, FAU, and FIU in Florida, the recruiting grounds are running thin. South Florida is known as the best recruiting grounds in the nation, so drawing players from here is of immense importance. FIU already has easier academic standards for incoming recruits than Miami does, so allowing them to also take the spotlight is not a good look for the Canes. For FIU, however, this win surely gives them another look from potential recruits that maybe are on the fence about going to FIU. Players see the program taking steps forward every season. Sure, the Panthers aren’t going to win the same amount of games as last season, but this win puts these players on the map in a way that last season’s accomplishments could not.
The “Made-in-Dade rivalry” is officially legit. FIU beat the Miami Hurricanes on what used to be their turf. There are no future games scheduled between the two programs for the foreseeable future, but let’s hope that changes quickly. Next up, FIU takes on Marshall in their regular-season finale, looking to avenge last season’s regular-season finale loss to the Thundering Herd. The FIU Panthers are bowl eligible for the 3rd season in a row, another 1st in program history. What a time to be alive.