Long Island at Florida International 9/4/2021 - NCAAF Picks & Predictions

By: Lance |

Last Updated: 08/30/2021 at 8:25 PM ET

The Florida International Panthers will open their season hosting the Long Island University Sharks, members of the FCS Northeast Conference. FIU was winless in the COVID shortened season last fall, but they only played five games, capped off with a 38-21 loss on the road to Western Kentucky. Long Island finished the season 2-2, dropping both road games decisively and winning their games at home, they played their season in the spring and finished the year with a 31-20 win over Merrimack College.

Florida International under Butch Davis has been a sound team in the C-USA, outside of last years’ 0-5 campaign. They’ll return nine starters on the offensive side of the ball including Max Bortenschachlager Sr. who is expected to be QB1 to start the season - the Panthers had some real issues at quarterback last season with three players seeing time and all struggling. The rushing attack will be led by Devonte Price, who had a good season last year, rushing for 6.8 yards a carry and had three of the four touchdowns being over 60 yards. 

Florida International will also return nine starters on their defensive end but also struggled on the defensive end last season allowing 32.4 points and 423 yards per game, the worst of the Butch Davis era. This unit should take a big step forward in 2021 after returning six of their top tacklers, improving the secondary, and a full, semi-normal offseason.

There isn’t a lot of tape on Long Island from last season but they struggled against inferior opponents averaging just 19.75 points and 280.8 yards per contest. They’ll have a new quarterback after the graduation of Conor Regan last season who threw for 547 yards and four touchdowns in four games, adding another score on the ground. Jonathan DeBique figures to lead the backfield after wracking up over 100 yards in two starts last season, averaging 20 carries per game and finding paydirt twice.

The Long Island Sharks allowed 27.2 points per game last season and were gashed by opponents’ run games, allowing 156 yards on the ground and 8 touchdowns. Opponents threw for 237 yards per game and wracked up 393 total yards per game, and the Sharks’ defense was terrible on third downs. There isn’t a lot to be excited about from this team, and they’ll certainly be outmatched in this opening week contest.

Even though Florida International finished 0-5 last season, they’ve been solid in the previous years under Butch Davis winning at least six games in their last three seasons. I expect them to take a big leap forward after last years’ debacle, with an experienced roster, and a ton of COVID problems in 2020. This team should be much improved, and ready to avenge a poor season last year with a decisive opening week win over the outmatched Long Island Sharks. Final score prediction, FIU wins 38-13. 

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