MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Florida International University Panthers look to keep their record perfect as they take aim at the Ragin’ Cajuns from the University of Louisiana at FIU Stadium this weekend.
FIU is riding high after knocking off opponents from a BCS conference (Louisville) and Conference USA (University of Central Florida) in the last two weeks. Much of the hype surrounding FIU has centered on the dazzling play of the electrifying T.Y. Hilton.
Hilton is currently number five in the country in All-Purpose yards, averaging just fewer than 200 yards per game, even though he played sparingly in the second half against UCF. Hilton had a breakout game against the Louisville Cardinal.
For the season, Hilton averages 21.4 yards per catch and catches 6 passes per game for roughly 121 yards a game. He rushes for an additional 18 yards and averages 58 yards in kickoff returns per game.
But as good as Hilton has been, it’s the other side of the football that is leading the Golden Panthers charge into the record books.
All you have to know as an opposing quarterback facing FIU is get ready to face the heat. FIU has pulled down 14 sacks this season, which is tops in the country according to cfbstats.com. FIU is also second in the country in sacks per game with the defense pulling down opposing quarterbacks nearly five times a game.
It’s a team game for FIU’s defense as the leading sacker is a 5’10” cornerback. FIU’s defense is attacking opponents and manhandled UCF’s offense which was the top rushing attack in the country before running into FIU’s defense.
UCF ran the ball 40 times against FIU and gained just 119 yards, or roughly 3 yards per carry. Louisville ran the ball 41 times and only got 83 yards, and North Texas ran 38 times for just 97 yards against the Golden Panthers’ suffocating defense.
FIU’s total defense is ranked 56th in the country and is allowing just 349 yards of total offense per game this season. Scoring defense is even better with FIU ranked 21st nationally, allowing just 14.3 yards per game.
Now, the Golden Panthers turn their focus to the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns this Saturday.
La.-Lafeyette is 89th in the country averaging 121 yards per game on the ground. But, Louisiana is only averaging 132 yards passing this season, which against FIU’s defense is not good news for the Cajuns.
Still, Louisiana is averaging nearly 31 points per game, which will put FIU’s defense under the gun once again.
Louisiana opened the season with a 61-34 drubbing by Oklahoma State University. The Cajuns followed that up with two straight victories over Kent State and Nicholls State respectively.
Louisiana is specializing in winning the turnover margin this season. The Cajuns are ranked number 17 in the country averaging plus one in the turnover battle per game. Louisiana has a 5-3 advantage in interceptions in 2011.
FIU’s game against the Ragin’ Cajuns is set to kickoff at 6:00 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3.com.