FIU football turns 15 years old when the 2016 season kicks off against Indiana on September 1. In their
short history the Panthers have had some memorable moments -- most of them in wins but some in losses as well. To commemorate the 15 years of FIU football, from now until FIU opens camp in early August I'll count down the Top 15 moments in FIU football history.
Having covered FIU football since its first game in August 2002 when I worked for the local newspaper, the following countdown is what I believe are the Top 15 moments. Of course, you may disagree so feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section. At No. 14, FIU's defense ended a Heisman Trophy campaign:
FIU D WRECKS TEXAS HEISMAN CANDIDATE
Heading into the 2010 season Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson was a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate. The dual-threat Aggies senior, who had the prototypical quarterback size at 6-5, 245 pounds, was projected to be a high NFL draft pick the following April.
FIU's defense under first-year coordinator Geoff "Get Your Chili Hot" Collins (photo left) was expected to have its hands full dealing with not only Johnson's passing ability but also his rushing prowess. Plus, the Panthers were playing at Kyle Field, "Home of the 12th Man", Texas A&M's raucous home stadium where the building seems to move when the sold-out crowd of 79,069 does their traditional sway in the stands.
That September night the Panthers defense didn't get the memo that it was supposed to be intimidated by the opponent, the crowd and the venue. For more than three quarters, the FIU defense harassed Johnson and thwarted any kind of TAMU offense limiting the Aggies to just two field goals. The Panthers took a 20-6 lead thanks in part to its aggressive, pressure defense.
FIU sacked Johnson six times and intercepted him four times, including Anthony Gaitor's 54-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter to make it 20-6. FIU forced five turnovers, including two fumbles forced by safety Johnathan Cyprien. The six sacks in the game are the fourth-most in FIU history. The four interceptions in the game are the second-most in FIU history to the five interceptions FIU had against Florida Atlantic in Don Shula Bowl IV.
Johnson finished the game 11 of 31 for 194 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions. FIU also throttled Johnson on the ground allowing him to run for just four yards. A few games later that season Johnson was replaced by current Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was also a receiver for the Aggies and who played on special teams against FIU.
However, the Aggies size and depth advantage over the Panthers was apparent in the fourth quarter when TAMU scored 21 unanswered points, including the winning touchdown with 4:29 left in the game. TAMU came back for a 27-20 win.
After the game when the Panthers headed toward their buses outside Kyle Field, a bunch of Texas A&M fans paid FIU plenty of compliments such as one fan saying FIU had "SEC speed" on defense and several others saying the Panthers were in for a good season in 2010. Little did FIU know that 2010 would turn out to be their best season to date.
Next on the Top 15 countdown: Happy returns for an FIU player-turned-coach
FIU FOOTBALL'S TOP 15 MOMENTS