By now after 12 meetings you may be familiar with Florida Atlantic and how the Owls always seem to play FIU tough in the Don Shula Bowl. Both teams have enjoyed their share of blowouts in the Shula Bowl but usually the games are tight -- half of the 12 Shula Bowls have been decided by 10 points or less.
FAU has a new coach in Charlie Partridge and is 2-3 (1-0 Conference USA) just like FIU. The Shula Bowl will be played for the first time on a Thursday night and after two straight seasons at FAU Stadium the game returns to FIU Stadium.
For more on the Owls here is FAU Owl Access writer Chuck King to answer 5 Questions on FAU. You can read more about the Owls at OwlAccess.com.
1. What does FAU do best on offense? Run or throw? Should the primary concern for the FIU defense be Jay Warren or Jaquez Johnson and his three main targets in Luck Whitehead, Jenson Stoshak and Alex Deleon?
CK: FAU's offense works best when there's a pretty good balance of run and pass. Jay Warren has emerged as the leading rusher and if he has a good game I suspect FAU will be on its way to a victory.
2. What's the quarterback situation with the Owls?
CK: Quez Johnson is and always has been the No. 1 quarterback. A shoulder injury forced him out of the season opener at Nebraska and kept him from playing at Alabama. I don't believe Hankerson has taken a snap in the past two games.
3. Setting aside the blowout losses at Nebraska and Alabama, how good or how bad is the FAU defense? What are FAU's strengths and weaknesses defensively?
CK: The Owls' problem has been allowing big plays. If FAU can avoid blown assignments the defense can be pretty good. They are starting to turn takeaways into points.
4. How are the Owls different under Charlie Partridge as opposed to Carl Pelini?
CK: FAU is more confident and perhaps more relaxed under Partridge. They believe in themselves and each other.
5. How do you see Shula Bowl XIII playing out?
CK: Several scenarios could play out. FAU is the superior team, so the most likely one involves the Owls putting up some early points and earning the victory. It wouldn't surprise me if FAU won by more than two touchdowns, but being a rivalry game – and given FAU's penchant for allowing big plays at odd times – it's more likely that the game is tight in the fourth quarter.