MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Not much has gone right for the Florida International University Panthers in 2012. Despite returning nearly the entire defense, the Panthers are just 1-5 and 0-2 in the Sun Belt Conference heading into Saturday’s game with the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
The game will be the final of a two game home stand as FIU lost last weekend to the Arkansas State Red Wolves. FIU is in desperate need of a victory and hope that the fact that Saturday’s game is Homecoming will help push the Panthers over the top.
Overall, FIU head coach Mario Cristobal has a 2-3 record against Middle Tennessee, while MTSU’s head coach Rick Stockstill is 4-2 in his career against the panthers.
Last season, FIU traveled to Middle Tennessee for the final game of the season and walked out with a 31-18 victory that gave FIU its school-record eighth victory of the season. But that was last season and FIU’s defense this year has been abysmal.
FIU is ranked dead last in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring defense, allowing 37.8 points per game, which is more than a touchdown more than Florida Atlantic, according to cfbstats.com. FIU is getting torched in the passing game primarily, giving up 267.7 yards per game, ranking ninth out of 10 teams in the Sun Belt.
FIU’s offense isn’t built this year to be able to hang big points on opponents. The Panthers are averaging just 24.7 points per game and just 153.3 rushing yards per game. FIU is giving up roughly 3.8 yards per rush, but has given up the second most rushing touchdowns (13) in the Sun Belt Conference.
FIU’s defense will have to try to contain MTSU’s prolific offense which is averaging 33.2 points per game, good for third best in the Sun Belt Conference. The Blue Raiders passing offense is averaging 232.4 yards per game this season, which is fourth in the Sun Belt, according to cfbstats.com.
The Blue Raiders will be on the road and facing a hostile crowd at FIU Stadium. The game is set for a 6 p.m. kick off.