Staff Predictions: FAU heads to Miami to face rival FIU in the 19th edition of the Shula Bowl

FAU defeated WKU 10-6 last week.


FAU’s defensive line warms up before last weeks game against Western Kentucky. Photo by Alex Liscio.

The Owls (3-1, 3-1 C-USA) head into Shula Bowl week on a two-game winning streak after defeating Western Kentucky at home last week 10-6.

This will be the 19th Shula Bowl matchup between FAU and FIU (0-3, 0-1 C-USA). The Owls lead the series 13-5, but one of those Panther wins was later vacated.

The University Press Sports Staff is back again with their predictions after going 4-0 in FAU’s win over WKU. Once again, no one guessed the correct score last week. This week, Managing Editor Joseph Acosta will be the guest picker.

Jensen Jennings | Sports Editor (4-0)

It’s finally Shula Bowl week. There were times this season when I didn’t even think this game would happen. FAU and FIU have both dealt with its fair share of cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19.

There is a bit of uncertainty going into this game for FAU at the quarterback position. Last week, Javion Posey came off the bench in the fourth quarter to replace starter Nick Tronti. Posey led FAU to victory with a late rushing touchdown.

The FAU defense has dominated all season and is third in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 11.5 points per game. FIU is averaging 24 points per game on the season.

Look for FAU to lean heavily on its running game and control the time of possession. During their last three Shula Bowl victories, the Owls have dominated FIU with its running game, averaging 347 rushing yards per game over the last three Shula Bowls.

FAU’s strong defense and solid running game will be enough to lead to another Shula Bowl victory for the Owls. Just don’t expect a high scoring affair.

Prediction: FAU 20, FIU 13

Trey Avant | Staff Writer (4-0)

FAU has struggled on offense this season, but they have a favorable matchup against FIU. The Panthers are giving up 28.7 points per game through three games this season. They are also giving up 458.3 yards per game. 

Expect the Owls to rely heavily on running backs BJ Emmons and Malcolm Davidson. Davidson, in particular, is averaging 7.5 yards per carry so expect FAU to gash FIU’s suspect defense.

On offense, FIU has struggled mightily this season averaging only 275 yards per game. Expect FIU to mirror FAU’s gameplan and run its offense through the running backs. 

This season, FIU running back D’vonte Price has rushed for 303 yards and three touchdowns. He is also averaging a whopping 8.7 yards per carry. Fellow running back Shaun Peterson Jr. has added 168 rushing yards, two touchdowns, and is averaging six yards per carry.

To counteract FIU’s solid stable of running backs, FAU boasts a dominant run defense that is only giving up 103.5 rushing yards per game and has only allowed one rushing touchdown.

FAU is a far superior team on both sides of the ball but expect both teams to struggle passing the ball. The game will be defense-focused with a lot of work from the running backs. 

Prediction: FAU 21, FIU 10

Bryce Totz | Staff Writer (4-0)

The Shula Bowl has been dominated by the Owls for the last three years, but Friday will be a different story. For the Owls to win their third straight game, they will need to perform better than they did last week. 

Once again, FAU’s defense will keep them in the game. The Panthers have not played since Oct. 23, so they will be rusty on both sides of the ball. 

FAU continues to struggle on offense, as last week Tronti had seven completions for 108 yards. The Owls had some success running the ball, Posey had nine carries for 60 yards and the game-winning touchdown. 

The Owls will need to score quickly, while the Panthers are still adjusting to playing a game. 

If FAU wants to be successful they need to get Davidson in a rhythm early. The offense has been reliant on their running backs to move the ball and score. 

The Owls should win, but this will probably be a one-score game. 

Prediction: FAU 17, FIU 10

Guest Picker Joseph Acosta | Managing Editor (4-0)

For FAU to win this game, the Owls will have to dominate on the defensive side of the ball. The FIU Panthers average 219 rushing yards per game according to Team Rankings, but that plays directly into the Owls hand. 

The FAU defense held then-NCAA leading rusher Sincere McCormick to 54 yards rushing in their dominant victory over UTSA, and last week held Western Kentucky to only 94 yards rushing. 

The Owl defense should dominate this game, and give whoever is starting at QB (although I assume it will be Javion Posey) a comfortable cushion.

On offense, whoever is at QB will have to attack through the air. The Panthers allow 7.8 yards per pass attempt, good for 78th in the nation. 

With TJ Chase coming into his own as the number one receiver, Posey or Tronti should have ample time to throw or run the ball.

Although rivalry games are always a variable, with any trends going out the door, I don’t see the Owls losing this game. The FAU defense is elite and will be the backbone of the Owls cruising to victory.

Prediction: FAU 21, FIU 3

For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet the staff: Jensen Jennings (@Jensen_Jennings), Trey Avant (@TreyAvant3), Bryce Totz (@brycetotz), Joseph Acosta (@acosta32_jp).