Panther Preview: UTEP vs. FIU

FIU RB Lexington Joseph breaking through a tackle against FAU. Photo by Adrian Valdivia, PantherNOW

Adrian Valdivia | Staff Writer

After getting crushed by rivals Florida Atlantic and North Texas, giving up over 100 points in the process, the Panthers fly into Texas to take on the UTEP Miners in their final road game of the season.

FIU is currently 4-6 overall and third-to-last place in the C-USA.

A hard fall for the Panthers, as they were fourth place in the conference before their loss to FAU, having a high chance of making a bowl game (which would be their first appearance since 2019). 

However, the loss has sent them spiraling down the standings, but although statistics and percentage have counted them out, the team stays strong and resilient. 

Following last Saturday’s game, Head Coach Mike MacIntyre spoke to the media saying the players and him included had to do better. 

“A bowl game might be the goal, but we have to take it game by game”, said MacIntyre.

“Bad roads lead to beautiful destinations… we just need to take it day by day and we’ll get to a bowl game,” said linebacker Reggie Peterson.

This Panthers team is young, and we’ve seen that week in and week out. One week the team can be the best in the conference, and the next be on the brink of last place in C-USA with fans hitting the panic button. 

However, UTEP has also been a confusing program to follow this year, so this game is evenly matched for both teams. In essence, it’s almost as if the teams are playing themselves. A young quarterback on each sideline with an offensive line that has been struggling throughout the season. 

On defense, both teams have shown that they have a promising future, but as of right now it is hard to predict which team will come out of the gates swinging with a defensive three-and-out and which will be able to hold on until the 60 minutes end.  

With the season coming to an end, we have seen all the ups and downs and emotions of this team. Yet, it is still incredibly difficult to predict how the Panthers will perform. Will we get a dominant Panthers defense like we did with Charlotte, or will they struggle in every aspect like they have the past couple weeks?

With only two games left in the season, it is crucial to get a win this week before coming back home to finish off the season against Middle Tennessee. Both the players and the coaching staff understand how pivotal this game is, with the chances of winning it increasing their bowl game eligibility tremendously.

You can stream the game on ESPN Plus  and catch up on all the live stats on the ESPN app.