The gist of a heated rivalry is for each team to hold up their end of the bargain, in some measure.
Once one (or both) of the programs folds before the annual affair even reaches, it takes away from the significance of the matchup. Florida Atlantic and Florida International square off in Boca Raton on Saturday, in which frivolous phrases such as “Super Bowl” and “pride” convey what’s at stake for the 1-6 Owls.
Bowl eligibility is impervious for Florida Atlantic due to future meetings with Florida, Western Kentucky, and Middle Tennessee, and that translates to a subordinate role for the Owls on Saturday once the Golden Panthers stumble in. They get to play the good ‘ole spoiler role…
Whether the universe has shifted to an outdated piece or times are merely changing before our eyes, we’re lucky to catch a fraction of this Florida rivalry.
Though they’re tagged as the tributary teams in Florida, there’s no alibi or excuse when the Owls and Golden Panthers square off. Charlie Partridge and Florida Atlantic simply threw in the white towel perhaps a handful of weeks too early.
A preseason preview of Florida Atlantic this summer preached potential and a possible turnaround. Just 3-9 a season ago for the Owls, how many tight-knit contests would they fall short in again in 2015? Here I am alluding to the fact that teams can only succumb to so many close losses. With talent on both sides of the ball, including the skill positions and secondary, it’d be a shame for FAU to not seize five or six wins.
From watching leads disappear in the snap of a finger, countless red zone turnovers, to the what appears to be nonchalance and neglectfulness; Florida Atlantic is a possible threat to feed off what was an unessential, mortifying 2014 campaign—if that’s somehow possible.
Hold the phone; it is, if you caught a lowlight or two from the Week 8 encounter with Texas El-Paso. The Conference-USA West could arguably stand as the nation’s worst division, both in terms of talent and the eye test of records.
One of the few outcasts happen to be the Texas El-Paso Miners, but to the program’s benefit, losing your running back—who was perhaps the glue to the entire team—never evolves into a positive occurrence. Yet, a club that had racked up just two wins (one to Incarnate Word, the other, and overtime victory of New Mexico State) prior to the matchup seemingly destroyed Florida Atlantic in countless facets of the contest last week.
Frankly, The Owls have mailed in the season before the upper-class competition could even come calling. Now they’re staring up at the Florida International Golden Panthers. At 4-4, sights have been fixated on a postseason berth for Ron Turner’s troops.
The path, however, remains littered with obstacles in passage to December.
A record of 6-6 doesn’t hold as much elegance these days. That’s potentially all Florida International will scrape up this season, as the schedule remains as follows: at Florida Atlantic, vs. Charlotte, at Marshall and against Western Kentucky. The way the back end is playing, it’d be take quite the scheme and devising for the Golden Panthers to upset the Hilltoppers or Thundering Herd.
And his is when Florida Atlantic can shove the shambles of this season aside and still act as a stumbling block for their upcoming foes.
It may not translate on the agenda for the Owls, or count as multiple wins, but Partridge and his cohorts can deal the in-state rivals a pretty ruthless hand if they were to show up on Saturday.
Play for pride. Play to bury the guy you’re lined up across from, who you’ve been mingling with since youth football. Whatever the incentive is for Florida Atlantic on Saturday, it could cost its rival the entire season.