FIU plays its inaugural Conference USA game on Saturday at Southern Miss. You can listen to the game on the FIU Sports Radio Network beginning at 3:55 p.m. I will have the call for you from Hattiesburg. CLICK HERE to access the game.
Terrible weather is expected in Hattiesburg for Saturday's game with a 70 percent chance of showers throughout the game so that could make it even tougher for an FIU offense trying to find itself. Southern Miss is also having a tough time moving the ball and scoring so we could be looking at a low scoring contest on Saturday.
Jake Medlock returns at quarterback for FIU from a concussion and should provide a lift for an offense that will have to give the FIU defense a chance by sustaining drives and putting some points on the board. The Panthers defense has been put in tough situations this season due to the offense not being able to move the ball downfield.
The Golden Eagles defense has been scored on plenty and could be the tonic for the FIU offense to snap out of its early season funk. However, Medlock will need time to throw, receivers will need to hold on to the ball, and the offensive line needs to open holes for the running game.
FIU has had only one touchdown drive this season that began deep in its own territory. The Panthers started at their 10 against Bethune-Cookman and scored a touchdown after a long pass from Medlock to T.J. Lowder. FIU's other two touchdowns scored this season came after a turnover deep in opponent's territory and a 41-yard punt return by Sam Miller.
If the Panthers are going to win Saturday, they will have to sustain drives, pick up a bunch of first downs and score points. The FIU defense should match up well against the USM offense, but that is if the Panthers D is not put in tough situations such as having to defend a short field.
The rainy weather could factor in the turnover battle and on special teams when it comes to field goal attempts and kick returns. FIU must protect the football and not have any breakdowns in special teams coverage.
A big crowd is expected Saturday in Hattiesburg as the Golden Eagles look to snap their 16-game losing streak. FIU knows what one of those losing streaks are like as it experienced a 23-game losing skid in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. The Panthers' win to snap their streak was a historical one when they played and won the final football game in the old Orange Bowl. FIU does not want to be part of USM's history on Saturday.