Final Rant (Week 3) at FIU

Drexler Dixon

Drexler Dixon

Shortly after Bethune-Cookman’s historic 34-13 win over Florida International on Saturday night, Golden Panthers head coach Ron Turner told his team “we got beat by a better football team because they’re more of a team than we are.” Turner neglected to mention to his guys that BCU fielded a squad just as athletic as his, they were equal if not superior in overall team speed, and the Wildcats were much more physical at the point of attack than were his Panthers. In essence, Turner should have said Bethune-Cookman was simply the better football team; no qualifiers needed.

This is our house

The Wildcats set the tone for the night in the parking lot before kickoff. No, there was no pregame dust-up between the two sides; I am referring to the deluxe-size BCU tailgate taking place in the parking lot. South Florida alumni chapters put together a homecoming worthy tailgate that covered the East parking lot with an abundance of Maroon and Gold supporters. The eyeball test suggests the stands inside the stadium were filled with an equal number of BCU and FIU fans.

A collective echo of ooohhhhhhhhs rang loudly on the first play of regulation when backup running back and special teams ace Drexler Dixon leveled FIU return man De’Andre Jasper on the game’s opening kickoff. Jasper left the field under his own power but the tone was established; BCU was dead set on playing fast, playing aggressive, and they were up for the challenge of proving they could compete with any team in the nation regardless of classification. For the next 59 and half minutes, it was BCU from the NCAA’s lower tiered Division One Football Championship Subdivision who dominated play.
The Wildcats kept the momentum rolling on their first offensive possession needing only 4 plays to drive 91 yards. Junior running back Anthony Jordan capped the drive with a 58 yard TD scamper and the Wildcats never looked back.

Around the same time as Jordan’s opening score, the slightly late arriving Marching Wildcats found their seats and begin to fill Alfonso Field with that rich, dark sound for which they have become known and FIU Stadium was unofficially rebranded as “The Wildcat Den” for the next 3 hours.

big men

Big men getting it done

Sports cliché number #117 states games are won and loss in the trenches and Saturday’s performance did nothing to dissuade this popular perception. The Wildcat offensive line paved the way for three Wildcat rushers to accumulate at least 60 yards each on the ground and a team average of 6.0 yards per attempt. My calculator tells me that’s good enough for a first down every two rushing tries. The defensive line was equally impressive limiting FIU to a pedestrian 2.2 yards per carry and just 73 yards rushing on the night. Coach Brian Jenkins stated after the game he challenged his offensive and defensive lines and based on the above-mentioned statistics, they answered the challenge pretty well.

FBS teams often enjoy their greatest level of superiority in the trenches when facing FCS opponents; so to see Bethune-Cookman’s big men not just hold up well but dominate the lines of scrimmage was a welcoming sign. Line play has been a tiresome point of criticism of HBCU squads for the better part of the last decade. Let’s hope BCU has solved this riddle as we get deeper into the season.

Take me away

Despite leading the nation in takeaways last season, BCU failed to register a turnover in week one versus Tennessee State. However, the Wildcat defense has seemed to regain their ball-hawking ways and have produced 5 takeaways in the past two games. Tim Burke’s 92 yard pick-six with 14:38 remaining in the contest ended any FIU hopes of a comeback attempt. It was BCU’s third pick-six of the season (Erik Williams and Nick Addison both returned interceptions for touchdowns in the Virginia Union game).

The Wildcats step WAY up in competition when they take on the #8 ranked Florida State Seminoles in Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday night. This will be the first ever match up with the Noles.

Who Will Ascend (Week Three) at FIU

 

bethune-cookman    at    florida-international-11

Sat., Sept. 14, 2013

Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium

 

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (2-0) travel south this weekend to take on the Florida International Panthers (0-2) in Miami on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m.  The Wildcats will look to improve to 3-0 on the season, 3-0 all-time against FIU, and secure its first ever win over a FBS opponent (FIU had not yet made the jump to the FBS level when the teams last meet in 2003).

Vegas Wild about the Cats

The Vegas sports betting odds opened on Monday with FIU favored by 3 points. The betting line moved 5.5 points in BCU’s favor within an hour of the spread being posted and another .5 point within 2 hours.  By 3:45 p.m. on Monday afternoon, BCU had gone from 3 point underdogs to 3 point road favorites. You heard right; that is not a misprint.   Vegas has a road FCS squad (BCU) favored by 3 points over a FBS team (FIU) in their home stadium.  OUCH!!! 

Vegas sports betting trends suggests the “wise guys” otherwise known as professional gamblers saw value in BCU and bet the line in BCU’s favor.  The line has remained the same for most of the week.

The Matchup

Florida International is ranked dead last in the nation in scoring offense averaging a mere 5 points per game.  Defensively the Panthers are allowing 483 yards per game and rank 108th out of 123 FBS teams.  Ron Turner started 11 new players when FIU took on Maryland in week one. The team has dealt with a rash of injuries in their first 2 games of the year.  The injuries are compounded by the already heavy attrition issues resulting from a tumultuous offseason in which FIU’s leading receiver, Glenn Coleman; starting running back, Kedrick Rhodes, and cornerback Richard Leonard were all ruled ineligible for academic reasons.  Transfer running back Jakhari Gore was kicked off the team for off the field issues.

Meanwhile Bethune-Cookman is averaging 362 yards and 39 points per game on offense while yielding just 215 yards and 8 points per game on defense.

BCU is unbeaten in their two prior meetings with FIU defeating the Panthers 31-0 in 2002 and 24-14 in 2003.  Like this season, BCU was ranked in the FCS Top 25 at the time of their prior clashes with the Panthers (#21 in 2002 and #7 in 2003).

A win on Saturday will mark the first time in the history of the BCU football program and only the 2nd time in MEAC history that a conference school has defeated a current FBS foe.  Florida A&M defeated the University of Miami 16-13 in 1979.

Road Warriors

The Marching Wildcats will join the football team at Alfonso Field on Saturday.  “The Pride” has performed in Nashville, Daytona, Jacksonville, and now Miami in less than 14 days.  The band is also expected to travel to Tallahassee for the Florida State contest on the 21st and will soon make an appearance at Raymond James Stadium for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game according to what we are being told.  Give it up for the band.

The game will be streamed live at FIUSports.com. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.