FIU returns to Denton, Texas for the first time since 2010 to take on North Texas in the 2014 season finale. The Panthers (4-7 overall) are looking to finish at .500 in Conference USA play. FIU enters the game 3-4 in conference play. North Texas is 3-7 overall and 1-5 in conference play.
The Panthers visit state-of-the-art Apogee Stadium for the first time in FIU program history. The ESPN 1210 AM crew along with Mike Levine and yours truly will be there to bring you the game. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. We'll start the pregame show at 3 p.m. If you can't get to a radio, you can always listen on-line by CLICKING HERE. The game is expected to be televised by My TV Channel 33 in South Florida but turn their sound down and listen to us while you watch the moving pictures.
FIU has won five straight games against North Texas since the Mean Green took the first two games of the series back in 2005 and 2006. The 2006 game tied an NCAA record for the longest game ever by going seven overtimes before UNT won 25-22.
The temperature has warmed up in Denton after being in the teens earlier in the week. Saturday's forecast at kickoff calls for 65 degrees and a 90 percent chance of showers. Here is how FIU rains on UNT's Senior Day and wins the season finale.
GROUND THE GROUND ATTACK: Like Middle Tennessee last week, North Texas is a ground-based offense that does not ask its quarterback to win games but rather manage them. Andrew McNulty is the third starting quarterback for UNT this season and he's been mediocre. Running backs Antoinne Jimmerson (222 pounds) and Reggie Pegram (230 pounds) are UNT's top two rushers and each is a load to bring down. If the FIU defense can make UNT's offense one-dimensional then you have to like the Panthers' chances for a 5-win season.
DRAW A LINE ON THE LINE: The Mean Green's defense has 29 sacks on the year, an average of nearly 3 sacks per game. The FIU offensive line has to keep Alex McGough's jersey clean and give him time to throw. UNT has some pretty good cornerbacks that could jump routes if McGough has to hurry his passes. The FIU O-line can also slow down some of the pressure on McGough if they can open holes in the run game and keep the Mean Green defense honest. FIU should be able to run the ball as UNT allows 167 yards on the ground per game.
SET THE CLOCKS AN HOUR BACK: FIU will be in the Central time zone like it was against UTSA earlier this season. The Panthers need to get off to a good start, especially on the road during an opponent's Senior Day. UNT draws 20,000+ fans to its 30,000+ seat stadium so the crowd might be a factor for their final home game of the season. A textbook drive like FIU's opening drive at Old Dominion that took up 8:16 and resulted in a touchdown would be ideal early on for the Panthers or how about a Richard Leonard return for a touchdown. Plus, weather might be a factor Saturday.
WEATHER THE WEATHER: The cold has left Denton but all day showers are expected on Saturday. The forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of rain so holding on to the football could be an issue. FIU did a terrific job last week winning the turnover battle against MT being +4. The Panthers have practiced and played in the rain in Miami this season so that should not be an issue. Holding on to the ball and footing could play a part in Saturday's game.