Football: Huskies travel to Miami to take on FIU 

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UConn football battles past Fresno State to capture a 19-14 victory during a Saturday afternoon on Oct. 1, 2022 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT. This win marks the Huskies’ first FBS victory since defeating UMass in 2019. Photo by Sofia Sawchuk/Daily Campus.

This weekend, the UConn Huskies will get an opportunity to escape the early onset of winter in Storrs, Connecticut and head to Miami, Florida. This trip though, will be strictly business, as they’re set to take on the Florida International Panthers in a game that is very winnable.  

The Panthers (2-2) haven’t had the best start to their season, despite what their .500 record may indicate. They started off their season with a scare, needing a two point conversion in overtime to overcome Bryant, a school that ranks in the bottom half of the FCS in most ratings. The Bulldogs opened up a 16-0 lead, but allowed the Panthers to sneak back into the game. The teams went to overtime and traded touchdowns, with FIU converting on a do-or-die two point conversion to win by one.  

They did go into the game envisioning a thriller–never something a team wants when playing low-FCS competition. The Panthers followed this performance up with a 41-12 loss at FPI No. 114 Texas State and an embarrassing 73-0 loss against Western Kentucky. They managed their first FBS win over New Mexico State, 21-7, the team that ranks No. 130 in the country, or second to last. Who is the worst according to FPI? That would be the Panthers.  

Their offense isn’t particularly potent with just nine touchdowns on the year, a figure good for 17.8 points per outing. They have just a single rushing touchdown and average south of three yards per carry. Lexington Joseph and E.J. Wilson Jr. split the backfield duties, with neither differentiating themselves so far.  

Under center, the Panthers trust Grayson James, who completes just about 60% of his attempts and is responsible for seven of the team’s nine scores. He’s a dual threat QB who is capable of gaining yardage on the ground, although he hasn’t made defenses pay too much this year with less than 20 such yards per game.  

On the other sideline will be a very hungry Husky team looking for their first set of consecutive wins since 2017 when they beat Temple and Tulsa. Fresh off an upset victory over Fresno State, the Huskies are in prime position to collect another.  

UConn football battles past Fresno State to capture a 19-14 victory during a Saturday afternoon on Oct. 1, 2022 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT. This win marks the Huskies’ first FBS victory since defeating UMass in 2019. Photo by Sofia Sawchuk/Daily Campus.

Starting on offense, things really started to click for freshman Zion Turner and his young new-look offense. With the Huskies missing their starting QB, their top two WRS and RBS, others have stepped up. Sophomore RB Devontae Houston found some great holes and was able to break free for a few big gains, which included a late touchdown to take the lead and the win. Turner, who came in looking mature for a first year, is really starting to come into his own. During the game winning drive, he connected a few times with fellow freshman Justin Joly and also slung the ball to sophomore Kevens Clercius for a massive 40-yard gain. Before the drive, he also threw a passing touchdown to sophomore Aaron Turner, who has established himself as the fastest guy left in the depleted receiver room. 

This FIU defense really shouldn’t pose much of a threat to the Huskies, as they’ve only forced four turnovers on the year and allow nearly 40 points per game. Zion Turner has proven to minimize his giveaways with just four in six games and he hasn’t thrown a pick since September 3rd. Additionally, if offensive coordinator Nick Charlton is able to brew up some more trickery like he did during an unconventional flea-flicker against Fresno, the Huskies could break open for some massive gains.  

The UConn defense was able to control Fresno State, holding them to just one touchdown. This FIU offense looks much less scary, so expect another defensive clinic from the Jackson Mitchell-led squad. 

Looking broadly, this game is a critical one in the Jim Mora era. This is just the second time the Huskies will enter as favorites (-4.5) and the first against an FBS team. UConn is expected to win. It’s one of two remaining games (the other being UMass) that Mora and the Huskies cannot afford to lose. Every other game is all upside. Their hopes of a bowl game also ride on this game. Implications aside, this should be a fun game to watch as Zion Turner and co. look to keep things rolling. 

The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN3.  

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