FIU (2-1, 1-0 in Conference USA) and the University of Miami (2-1) are set to face off for the first time in more than a decade at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 3:30 p.m. Here are three reasons to be excited about the game.
1. The long-awaited renewal of a rivalry
The Panthers and Hurricanes are geographically primed to be rivals. Separated by only a 20-minute drive, these programs should naturally be on each other’s schedules. That hasn’t been the case for the last 11 years.
Since both teams lost their cool and fought in their first meeting, the longevity of this South Florida rivalry was uncertain. That game in 2006 saw 31 players suspended in total and tempers flare up all over the stands and field of the Orange Bowl. After the teams played a much cleaner game in 2007 and completed their contract, no further plans were made to continue the rivalry.
Finally in 2014, the two universities announced in a joint press conference that they would meet again in 2018 and 2019. The first game, this Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium, is a home game for the Hurricanes. FIU’s home game will likely be played at Hard Rock Stadium or Marlins Park due to the limited seating capacity of Riccardo Silva Stadium.
2. A test for a rising program
FIU football has grown fast since 2007.
Over the last 11 years, the team has been to three bowl games, winning one of them. It has seen National Football League talents like T.Y. Hilton, Jonathan Cyprien, Jonnu Smith and Alex McGough rise through its ranks. FIU has since joined Conference USA, which has a higher level of competition than their former Sun Belt Conference, and expanded its stadium. Everything about FIU football has gotten bigger.
This year’s team looks promising, too. FIU is coming off a 63-24 win over the University of Massachusetts Amherst Minutemen in which they tied their all-time scoring record. The Panthers’ lone defeat came in the opener to Indiana, a team that has yet to lose a game in 2018.
The University of Miami is the first AP Top 25 ranked opponent FIU will face in 2018.
3. Butch Davis knows Hurricanes football
Head coach Butch Davis is a legendary coach in South Florida. His years as head coach of the University of Miami from 1995-2000 saw him build a program with limited scholarships into a national powerhouse. The year after he left to coach the Cleveland Browns, the Hurricanes won a national championship with the players he recruited.
Davis will coach against his former team on Saturday; however, it won’t be Davis’ first matchup versus UM. He ran the University of North Carolina’s football team from 2007-2010 and regularly competed against the Hurricanes since both programs were in the Atlantic Coast Conference. His Tar Heels defeated the Hurricanes in three out of four matchups, including once when UM was ranked No. 15 in the country.
Want to beat UM before the game begins? Support FIU in the Battle For Miami Donor Challenge.