NASHVILLE -- Howdy, y'all back here in Nashville on a late Friday night. The weekend here in the Music City got off to a good start for the Panthers' bowl scenarios. FIU needed seven teams to win Friday to make the Panthers' road to a bowl a little easier and all seven teams won. (See the post below this one for all the details). LIVE GAME BLOG of FIU/Middle Tennessee begins at 3:25 p.m. on Saturday. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.
7 . . . . 8
Seven was a good number for FIU on Friday and a little ironic too. Since the Panthers (7-4) sit with seven wins entering Saturday's game. The seven wins in 2011 are the most regular season wins ever for an FIU team in the 10-year history of FIU Football.
But enough about seven, after all George Costanza wanted to name his kid Seven and George (left) wasn't the most successful Seinfeld character, despite being the assistant to the traveling secretary of the New York Yankees. The number we need to focus on today is 8.
As in FIU getting to 8-4 on Saturday with a win over Middle Tennessee, because when it comes to bowl-eligible teams, an 8-4 record (including a win over possible Big East champ Louisville) looks like a Ferrari compared to a 6-6 Ford Escort. (No offense to Escort owners, I am just trying to make a point) It would be great to get to 8 wins, not only because it has never been done before in FIU history, but also because of bowl implications.
Since the Sun Belt Conference does not have any other bowl tie-ins besides the New Orleans Bowl and GoDaddy.com Bowl, the Panthers need every advantage they can roll out to the bowl committees. An 8-4 record would qualify as an advantage. Other FIU advantages: a big TV market in Miami, no other Florida bowl-eligible teams south of Gainesville, and T.Y. Hilton, whose play against Louisville helped produce one of ESPN's most-watched college football telecasts this season.
Now we won't go through a whole Sesame Street routine with the number 8, but here are some interesting tidbits about the number 8.
The number eight is a favorable number, associated to prosperity. Chinese culture considers eight a lucky number. In pool, the eight ball is the most important ball. And in numerology, 8 is the number of building, which is what FIU football is doing and would keep doing with another bowl game. (FYI, I knew nothing about these number 8 facts, I had to look them up)
The Blue Raiders (2-8) face the Panthers on Saturday with eight losses, but MT is not as bad as their record. The Raiders were in every game this season until the wheels started coming off lately. MT lost by three points to Purdue, Troy (before the Trojans tanked), and WKU.
The Panthers counter this with the No. 17 scoring defense in the nation that allows just 19.5 points per game. This is how well defensive coordinator Todd Orlando's (left) unit has played of late:
Since the fourth quarter of the loss at Arkansas State where the Panthers gave up three touchdowns, the FIU D has given up only one touchdown in each of the last three games and just two touchdowns against Troy. FIU's record in the last four games: 3-1.
FIU should be able to move the ball on the MT defense. The Raiders are giving up 210 rushing yards per game. It could be a big game for Kedrick Rhodes, who needs 130 rushing yards to pass Rashod Smith for the single-season FIU rushing record of 1,133 yards.
Ked (right) currently has 1,004 yards. Ked has a legitimate shot to break the record, but more importantly -- and Ked will tell you so -- is setting the new program record of 8 regular season wins. And like the shape of an 8, this post has come full circle.
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*Thanks Sam Lewis (Orlando); thanks Richard Lewis (Rhodes).