MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Florida International Golden Panthers will try to avenge its first loss of the season this Saturday against the Duke Blue Devils.
The game at FIU Stadium is also serving as this year’s homecoming game for the Golden Panthers. It’s also a sign of where the school wants to go by scheduling homecoming against a team from a BCS conference.
The Blue Devils are traditionally the worst team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but have ceded that title to Boston College this season. Duke is coached by noted quarterback guru David Cutcliffe. He’s tutored such quarterbacks as the Manning brothers at Ole Miss and Tennessee.
Cutcliffe’s Blue Devil offense is averaging 26 points per game, which is good for 79th in the country. But don’t let that number deceive you, Duke has a stellar passing offense.
This season, the Blue Devils are ranked 20th in the nation in passing offense, throwing for 306 yards per game and averaging a quarterback rating of 138.19. The Blue Devils are attempting 41 passes a game and completing 72 percent of their passes.
That offense will run into a FIU defense that is allowing 245 yards per game through the air. FIU is allowing opponents to connect on 61 percent of their passes on 34 attempts per game.
But FIU’s numbers are skewed as well because the Golden Panthers are certainly bringing the pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Golden Panthers are currently tied for fourth in the country with 14 sacks through four games.
That’s going to fire up the crowd and put enormous pressure on the Blue Devils offensive line. Duke is giving up 1.75 sacks per game, and against the Golden Panthers defense, that’s a recipe for disaster.
When FIU gets the football, all eyes will turn towards the Golden Panthers’ utlity man, T.Y. Hilton. The receiver/kick returner/running back is ranked number 27 in the country in receiving, averaging 99 yards per game through the air.
For the season, Hilton is averaging 155 yards of total offense per game, even though he was severely limited in the Panthers’ last two games.
FIU’s rushing offense is pounding out 139 yards per game this season. The overall passing game is averaging just 245 yards per game through the air, but did play part of last week without starter Wesley Carroll.
Duke counters with a defense that is allowing just 109 yards per game on the ground and surrounding 251 yards per game.
If the Golden Panthers can get past the Blue Devils this weekend, they’ll have a record of 4-1 as the team heads on the road for two straight weeks against Akron and Arkansas State.
Saturday’s game is set for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at FIU Stadium. You can also catch the game on ESPNU.