Expectations and excitement are both on the rise for Florida International University’s football team.
The Panthers doubled their win total from 2016 this past season – winning eight games – and snapped a six-season bowl game drought by playing in the Big Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl to cap the 2017 season.
FIU fans now know when and where they can see their team play this coming season as Conference USA released the 2018 football schedules for its member schools Tuesday.
Florida International’s 2018 slate will feature games against five bowl teams from the 2017 season, a home opener against Indiana, and the renewal of its in-city rivalry series with the University of Miami.
Panthers head coach Butch Davis said his team’s schedule will test his team right out of the gate.
“This year’s schedule will again be a great test for our program,” Davis said. “The front end of the schedule will be extremely challenging, especially with big games against Indiana and Miami to get us ready for conference play.”
“Also, having a bye week midway through the year will give us a chance to regroup at the right time and gear up for the second half of the season – which has three of our last five Conference USA games on the road,” Davis added.
FIU will strap it up for the first time on September 1 – hosting the Hoosiers, who went 5-7 this past season. This matchup was supposed to be the FIU-hosted part of a two-year “home and home” agreement between the programs, but 2017’s game was canceled due to effects of Hurricane Irma on the state of Florida.
The Panthers will hit the road to take on Old Dominion the following week (Sept. 8) before coming back home to take on UMass, who FIU defeated in a 63-45 shootout this past season, on September 15.
Getting off to a strong start is imperative for FIU, given that it will be going toe-to-toe with the Miami Hurricanes on September 22.
Even though the neighboring programs – separated by less than 10 miles – have only faced off on a football field twice, they have a bit of a storied past with one another. The two first met in 2006, with the Hurricanes defeating the Panthers 35-0, but the game wasn’t so much about the lopsided final score as much as it was about the bench-clearing brawl that took place. Miami and FIU met again in 2007 – a 23-9 Canes win in the Orange Bowl – but the stain of the fight marred what could’ve been an annual rivalry showdown.
The second quarter of FIU’s season includes three home games and its bye week – a Sept. 29 tilt with Arkansas Pine-Bluff, the bye week, an Oct. 13 showdown with Middle Tennessee, and an Oct. 20 game against Rice.
FIU will close the year with five straight conference games.
The important stretch opens with a visit to Western Kentucky (Oct. 27), followed by a home game against in-state rival and defending C-USA champion Florida Atlantic University (Nov. 3), then back to back road games against University of Texas-San Antonio (Nov. 10) and Charlotte (Nov. 17), before closing out the regular season at home against Marshall on November 24.
Davis said FIU, which just welcomed in another solid signing class, must have a productive offseason to prepare for the 2018 gauntlet.
“We’re going to have to have a good offseason to get us ready,” Davis said.
See FIU’s full schedule below:
Saturday, Sept. 1: vs. Indiana
Saturday, Sept. 8: at Old Dominion
Saturday, Sept. 15: vs. UMass
Saturday, Sept. 22: at Miami
Saturday, Sept. 29: vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff
Saturday, Oct. 6: BYE
Saturday, Oct. 13: vs. Middle Tennessee
Saturday, Oct. 20: vs. Rice
Saturday, Oct. 27: at Western Kentucky
Saturday, Nov. 3: vs. Florida Atlantic
Saturday, Nov. 10: at UTSA
Saturday, Nov. 17: at Charlotte
Saturday, Nov. 24: vs. Marshall
Fans can visit www.FIUSports.com for ticket information.