Staff Predictions: FAU takes on FIU in 21st annual Shula Bowl

The Owls currently hold a 15-5 advantage in the Shula Bowl against the Panthers.


Erika Fletcher

The Owls takes down UAB defender together On Oct. 29, 2022.

The FAU Owls will get set to play the Florida International University Panthers in the 21st annual Shula Bowl this Saturday at 7 p.m. in Miami, Fla.

FAU won the last encounter in a convincing 58-21 blowout, holding the all-time record with 15 wins in 20 games.

According to ESPN, the Owls stand as the 15.5-point favorites to win the matchup.

The University Press Sports Staff returns with their predictions after going 2-2 for the UAB matchup.

Cameron Priester – Sports Editor (4-5)

This season’s matchup has the potential to be one of the more interesting Shula Bowls in recent memory.

The Owls will enter Saturday coming off of one of their most sound wins of the year against UAB and a week of rest. Meanwhile, the Panthers look much improved since their shaky start that included a 73-0 loss to Western Kentucky.

Despite the improvements FIU has shown in their first season under head coach Mike McIntyre, this still feels like the Owls’ game to lose.

Anticipate the Owls’ offense to be very aggressive through the air, especially early on. Not only will this allow graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry to get comfortable, the Panthers have struggled defending the pass all season FIU is ranked 123rd out of 131 FBS teams in passing defense.

If the Owls can pass the ball efficiently and continue their streak of solid defensive performances, they should be able to make it six consecutive Shula Bowl victories.

Prediction: FAU 38, FIU 24

Richard Pereira – News Editor (6-3)

Coming out of their second and final bye week, the Owls have a lot going their way heading into this game.

FIU made tremendous progress within a year’s time, going from a 1-11 record in 2021 to a decent 4-5 performance at this point of the season. They are coming off an embarrassing 52-14 defeat at North Texas, so they have their work cut for them against FAU.

Anticipate FAU to expose holes in FIU’s defense, which allows 35.8 points per game as the third worst in Conference USA.

Quarterback N’Kosi Perry should look for wide receivers LaJohntay Wester and Je’Quan Burton by getting the ball in the air frequently throughout the game, as the Panthers concede 283.4 passing yards on average. They are only above Charlotte’s 292.6 yards as one of the weakest passing defenses in the conference.

While the Panthers will have this Shula Bowl be the most intriguing from past matchups, expect the Owls to pull away in the second half to get their 16th Shula Bowl win.

Prediction: FAU 45, FIU 24

Trey Avant – Staff Writer (6-3)

Both FAU and FIU have a lot at stake going into this matchup. They need to win at least two out of their remaining three games to become bowl-eligible.

FAU is fresh off of upsetting UAB and should be well-rested following a bye week. FIU, on the other hand, struggled in its 52-14 loss to North Texas last week.

With that being said, FIU is not a team that should be taken lightly as they are a much improved team than in year’s past. While FAU has proven to be a very formidable opponent at home, they almost look like a completely different team away from Boca Raton, with an 0-4 record in road games.

While FAU’s lack of success on the road should play a role in this game, it is clear they have the superior talent. FAU is ranked 36th in the country in rushing offense, while FIU is ranked 96th in the country in rushing defense. If the Panthers cannot contain running backs Larry McCammon and Zuberi Mobley, the game can get out of hand very quickly for them.

FIU running back Lexington Joseph has proven to be a very good back and the Owls must slow him down. If they do that and force quarterback Grayson James, who has struggled this season, to beat them, they will have a good shot at winning.

Prediction: FAU 35, FIU 20

Kevin Garcia – Staff Writer (3-5)

FAU returns from its final bye week to face off against the FIU Panthers in the annual Shula Bowl. The Owls will seek their sixth consecutive victory over the Panthers on Saturday evening.

Momentum can play a factor in football, and FAU went into its bye week following a solid victory over UAB. With a 4-5 record, the Owls need a win this week if they want to salvage their season.

A major key to victory for the Owls will rely upon their second half performance, as errors have plagued the squad all season long during that period. Head coach Willie Taggart and offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon certainly have their work cut out for them in that regard; however, the Panthers present a favorable matchup on defense.

Larry McCammon III is a player to watch this week as he received a team-high 16 carries last week; look for the junior running back to build upon that with a potential big day on Saturday. The Owls should take care of their inner-state foes with ease.

Prediction: FAU 40, FIU 24

For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet the staff:  Cameron Priester (@PriesterCameron), Richard Pereira (@Rich26Pereira), and Trey Avant (@TreyAvant3), and Kevin Garcia (@Kevingar658)