FAU Football: Owls looking for sixth consecutive Shula Bowl victory at FIU

A victory for the Owls would secure the longest winning streak in Shula Bowl history.


Erika Fletcher

FAU junior wide receiver LaJohntay Wester in between plays against the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Oct. 29, 2022.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

The FAU Owls (4-5, 3-2 C-USA) will take on the Florida International University Panthers (4-5, 3-2 C-USA) in Shula Bowl XXI this Saturday at Ricardo Silva Stadium in Miami, Fla.

It’s that one game you circle on the calendar that everybody is going to pay attention to,” said head coach Willie Taggart. “You know how big the game is for you and your program, but you also want to make sure you stay focused on the things that matter and stay focused on the gameplan.”

The Owls have dominated the rivalry in recent memory, winning the last five matchups between the two programs and holding a 15-5 advantage in the all-time record. Last season’s 58-21 victory was the Owls’ largest margin of victory over FIU.

However, this season’s meeting poses to be much more interesting than years prior. Not only are both teams have identical records, the Panthers look much improved since what appeared to be the start of another disastrous season.

“I think they’re playing with some confidence that you haven’t seen in previous years. Their staff is doing a really good job of getting those guys to play hard,” said offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon.

Dearmon also spoke highly of the Panthers’ defense, which is currently ranked ninth in C-USA in scoring defense and allowing opponents an average of 35.78 points per game.

“They do multiple things, which causes you to work so many different things offensively,” said Dearmon. “They play a variety of coverages. They bring different guys on pressures to keep you on your toes. They play multiple fronts. They’re a really good defense.”

They will match up with the Owls’ offense, which is coming off of one of their more impressive outings of the season against the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). In the 24-17 victory over the Blazers, graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry threw for 197 yards and three touchdowns earning him an 81.6 quarterback ratinghis highest grade of the season.

Meanwhile, the Owls’ defense enters the matchup holding their previous three opponents to 21 points or less. They’re looking to continue their stretch of solid games against the FIU offense, which ranks as one of the worst in the conference.

Of the 11 teams in C-USA, the Golden Panthers are ranked last in points per game (20.33), yards per game (337.78), and rushing offense (106.56).

Despite their struggles on offense, Taggart emphasized the importance of not overlooking a rival opponent.

You see a football team that has gotten better as the year has gone on,” said Taggart. “It’s a rival game, so you can throw the numbers and everything else when it comes to games like this.”

Kickoff is set for Saturday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Stadium.

Cameron Priester is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron