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Butch Davis puts upset victory against UM in the past, tells FIU to focus on Marshall

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 11/30/2019 By Walter Villa, The Miami Herald

No FIU Panthers football players were made available to the media Tuesday — and there was a simple reason for that in the mind of coach Butch Davis.

Following Saturday night’s epic 30-24 win over the Miami Hurricanes, Davis wanted to put FIU’s local rivals in his team’s rear-view mirror.

“When we walked out of the building on Sunday at 5 o’clock,” Davis said, “I told our kids, ‘We’re not talking about Miami. Everything is 100 percent focused on Marshall.’”

Indeed, FIU (6-5, 4-3 Conference USA) will end its regular season Saturday at noon against a league rival, Marshall (7-4, 5-2).

Marshall, which went on the road last season and beat FIU 28-25, is favored by seven points on Saturday.

FIU is 0-4 on the road this season, which helps explain why Marshall is favored.

“I don’t worry about that,” Davis said when asked about FIU’s poor road record. “I worry about Marshall. They’re a good football team.”

Marshall’s best player is Brenden Knox, a 6-0, 225-pound junior who leads Conference USA in rushing yards (1,138). He has 10 rushing touchdowns and a 5.4 average per carry.

Last season, Knox ran 19 times for 109 yards in the win over FIU.

In Marshall’s best win of this season — a 36-31 road victory over Conference USA division leader Florida Atlantic — Knox had 220 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. His 17-yard touchdown with 36 seconds left clinched the victory as he dragged FAU defenders into the end zone.

Marshall’s quarterback is Isaiah Green, a 6-2, 210-pound dual-threat sophomore.

Defensively, Marshall, which ranks third in the league in points allowed (22.7), is led by its three linebackers.

Tavante Beckett, a 5-10, 220-pound junior, leads the league in tackles (106) and stops per game (9.6). Marshall senior Omari Cobb, a 6-4, 225-pounder, ranks fourth in the league with 96 tackles.

Marshall’s third starting linebacker, 6-2, 245-pound sophomore Darius Hodge, is tied for fifth in the league with seven sacks.

Weather could be a factor on Saturday. Rain and temperatures of about 48 degrees are in the forecast, which would mirror what happened the last time FIU visited Marshall’s campus in Huntington, West Virginia.

“It was miserable weather — rainy and cold — and they had a ton of people at the game,” Davis said of the game that FIU won 41-30 in 2017. “It’s a loud place, and they have good crowd support.”

Saturday’s game is vital to FIU, which is bowl eligible but still not guaranteed a spot in the postseason.

“Six [wins] just gives you a chance,” Davis said. “It doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to get [a bowl bid]. We better play well.”

THIS AND THAT

? Davis’ lone comment on the Miami win: “Saturday night was special. It was probably the best win [FIU] has had in the history of the program.”

? FIU was named the national Team of the Week by the Football Writers Association of America.

? FIU kicker Jose Borregales was Conference USA’s Special Teams Player of the Week after tying his school record with a 53-yard field goal Saturday. He went 3 for 3 on field goals overall, also making kicks from 50 and 29 yards.

? FIU senior center Osasumwen Osaghae was named Conference USA’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Week after averaging 9.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in three games. Offensively, he made 15 of 18 shots from the floor in the three games, including his first collegiate three-pointer. He also set his career high with 22 points against Eastern Kentucky.

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©2019 Miami Herald

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