Game 11: @Florida International
Date/Time/Location: 11.23.2019, 19:00, Miami, FL
Television: CBS Sports Network
The Canes have won all three matchups between these two teams. Miami won 31-17 last season in a game that they led 31-0 entering the fourth quarter. The series is perhaps most well-known for the 2006 game which Miami won 35-0, but was marred by an onfield brawl that resulted in 31 players being suspended across the two teams.
@Florida International Overview
After going 8-5 and 9-4 in his first two seasons in charge at FIU, former UM coach Butch Davis is facing an uphill battle to get FIU to a bowl game. The Panthers are 5-5, with this game and one against Marshall to close out the season. Like Miami, they are coming off a bye week, but don’t have the momentum that the Canes have. FIU were blown out by Florida Atlantic 37-7 in Boca two weeks ago.
FIU has struggled offensively this year. They are 78th in the nation in yards per play, and are not particularly impressive through the air or on the ground. The Panthers are led by redshirt senior QB James Morgan, who has been unspectacular but has done a good job avoiding turnovers, with just 2 interceptions thrown this year. FIU feature two senior running backs — Anthony Jones and Napoleon Maxwell — who average 4.8 and 5.4 yards per carry, respectively. Each have rushed for 7 touchdowns on the year, and have each had long (60+ yard) scoring runs.
Defensively, FIU is right on par with their offensive nationally in terms of efficiency. They are 77th overall, giving up 5.8 yards play. They have not been successful at creating tackles for loss or causing turnovers. They are woefully bad at defending the run, giving up 5.3 yards per carry and over 200 per game.
As for the kicking game, Jose Borregales is 12/19 on the season, with all 7 field goal misses coming on kicks of 30+ yards. He has also missed two extra points on the season. FIU has done a good job of covering punts, and they have a dangerous returner themselves. Maurice Alexander has a 90 yard TD return this seaso, plus another where he did the majority of the work before pitching to his teammate to complete the score.
What to Expect This Week
With Virginia Tech’s blowout win over Georgia Tech, the Canes were officially eliminated from contention in the ACC Coastal. The goal is now to close out the season with 8 wins, including a 5 game win streak, and hope for a good bowl game. If the Miami of the past month shows up, this game should be mostly a non-event, with talk about the Orange Bowl, Butch Davis’ time as Miami head coach, and other filler taking up much of the 4th quarter commentary.
FIU has underwhelmed this season. Their offense is struggling, averaging less than 17 points per game in their last three outings. In the same time frame, the defense is giving up 34 points per game, including 50 to a 3-9 Middle Tennessee State team. All told, it’s not particularly surprising that the Canes are 18.5 point favorites to open the week.
Finally, we should point out that Marlins Park has no business hosting this game. The football configuration is, to say the least, snug. Of particular concern is how close the endzones are to the right field wall and the visitors dugout. This adds needless danger for the players, which is especially frustrating because it was entirely avoidable. FIU, with its own stadium being not equipped to host this game, could have and should have made arrangements to host it at Hard Rock Stadium. Instead, fans are going to be treated to terrible sightlines and overpriced seats, while players are subjected to additional injury risk. All because FIU seemingly could not stomach the idea of playing this game in the Canes’ “home” stadium.
Adam and Vishnu both correctly picked Miami to win and cover over Louisville, though neither saw the Canes netting anything close to a 25 point win. Meanwhile, JT was pessimistic (perhaps intentionally) in taking the Cardinals to win, and therefore dropped a game straight up and against the spread.
|Straight Up||Against the Spread|
This game should not be competitive — the Canes are simply better. It would not surprise me if, coming off the bye, Miami sleepwalks through the first series or two. But Miami should win the game in the trenches, especially when they are on defense. That should result in the Canes being up by at least two scores by halftime, ultimately cruising to an easy win.
Miami 38, Florida International 14
Okay, no more picking Miami to lose (until the bowl game I suppose). No doubt Butch Davis and FIU have this one circled and it remains my least favorite game on the schedule. Nothing about this game is anything to look forward to, but hopefully Miami comes out and takes care of business without too much trouble. I think Jarren Williams has settled into his role, and the offense puts this one out of reach early. It would also be nice to see a defensive touchdown this week.
Miami 45, Florida International 17
Both teams are coming off a bye week, which has been problematic for the Canes this year. With that said, FIU is way overmatched here and even if there is some sluggishness, it shouldn’t matter long-term. The Canes should physically dominate this game and coast to an easy win. A lot of backups should get plenty of action.
Miami 49, Florida Internatonal 3