MIAMI – No. 20 Miami returns home from a 49-24 victory over Toledo to kick off a three-game homestand with a visit from crosstown foe Florida International. The Panthers and Hurricanes have met just twice before -- both Miami victories -- but the rivalry got off to an emotional start in 2006, when 13 players (eight FIU, five Miami) were ejected due to a bench-clearing brawl in the third quarter.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Miami -26.5.
"It'll be an emotional game for sure," Hurricanes coach Mark Richt told reporters. "But that's where everybody's got to be disciplined and do a good job. … But everybody knows you do something stupid then you don't get to play." The schools are less than 10 miles apart and many of the local players grew up competing against each other in high school and youth programs. And then there's FIU coach Butch Davis, who coached the Hurricanes for six seasons from 1995-2000, helping recruit many of the players that went on to win Miami's 2001 national championship. In his first season with FIU last year, Davis got the Panthers into their first bowl game in six years but he will have his work cut out for him against these Hurricanes, who have teed off on their last two overmatched opponents -- Savannah State (77-0) and Toledo -- after a season-opening loss to LSU.
ABOUT FIU (2-1)
Led by running back Shawndarrius Phillips, who rushed for a career-high 117 yards and two touchdowns and had 56 yards receiving, FIU scored 63 points against UMass last week to tie the team high that was set against the Minutemen last season. The Panthers scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams, marking just the fourth time in school history they turned that trick. The Panthers topped the nation in red-zone scoring last year, converting on 40-of-41 attempts, and they have picked up where they left off with 10 touchdowns in 12 trips to the red zone this season.
ABOUT MIAMI (2-1)
Quarterback Malik Rosier enjoyed a career day against Toledo with five touchdowns (three rushing, two passing) and he will get another chance to pad his stats against FIU although Richt figures to also give young backup N'Kosi Perry valuable playing time under center. Sophomore receiver Jeff Thomas has been turning heads with his explosive play and he not only leads Miami in receptions (11) and receiving yards (304) but paces the nation in yards per catch (27.6). The defense, ranked fourth in the nation (236 yards per game), doesn't figure to be challenged by FIU but the unit may be without safety Jaquan Johnson, who left the Toledo game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and the defense wasn't the same without him, giving four up straight scoring drives.
1. The teams last met almost exactly 11 years ago, with Miami coming away with a 23-9 win on Sept. 23, 2007 at the Orange Bowl.
2. The Hurricanes had 14 tackles for loss against Toledo and they rank first in the nation in that category (11.7 per game).
3. Davis is 3-1 against the Hurricanes, all coming while he coached North Carolina.
PREDICTION: Miami 57, FIU 10