History Not on Owls Side

The last time the Owls took the field at Dolphin Stadium the end result was a 31-0 victory over FIU in the Shula Bowl. When they take the same field this Saturday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, they will be vying for their first ever win against a team from a BCS Conference.

“If we win this game, the confidence will be huge for this team,” center Nick Paris said. “We’ll feel unstoppable.”

To this point in its history, FAU is 0-11 against teams from the Big Ten, Big XII, SEC, ACC and Big East. The only BCS Conference FAU hasn’t lost a game against is the Pac-10.

At the root of these games against overwhelming opponents is Coach Howard Schnellenberger’s “advanced training” philosophy – which theorizes that in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.

The only time the Owls have ever faced Minnesota was in 2005 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. In that game, current New England Patriots running back Laurence Maroney had one of the most dominant games ever against the Owls. Maroney ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns while catching three balls for 55 more yards and another touchdown. The Golden Gophers won that game 46-7.

This season the Gophers have a new coach in Tim Brewster and are not quite the powerhouse they were in 2005. They struggled to a 6-7 (3-5 Big Ten) record last year while they adjusted to the loss of Maroney. The Gophers have a new running back in Amir Pinnix, who rushed for 1,272 yards and ten touchdowns last year. He is off to a great start already this season with three TDs. Handing off to Pinnix is quarterback Adam Weber, who has thrown for 459 yards and six TDs already this season. The Gophers, like most college teams, have begun to employ the spread offense and Weber’s statistics have benefited from that.

In their first two games of 2007, the Gophers have faced off against two opponents from the Mid American Conference. Surprisingly, they only won one of those games and both went into overtime. Traditionally, MAC teams give Big Ten teams very little trouble. Minnesota’s struggles this season have given FAU hope that an upset could happen this week.

“There isn’t any telling who’s going to win, especially this year it’s kind of crazy,” said linebacker Cergile Sincere.

As potent as the Gophers have been offensively in their first two games, defense has been a concern. The scores of their first two games have been 32-31 and 41-35; they lost the first against Bowling Green and then won against Miami of Ohio. In those games they gave up an abominable 415 passing yards per game and 544.5 yards of total offense. FAU must expose this weakness in pass defense if an upset is in the cards.

Students can hitch a ride to the game on the FAU shuttle bus. It leaves from outside the Student Union at 10:30 a.m.

The Owls play Minnesota this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.