Charlotte vs. FIU prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the matchup between the 49ers and Panthers at Jerry Richardson Stadium.
Charlotte vs. FIU Game Preview
When: Saturday, October 15 – 6:00 p.m. ET
Where: Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Broadcast: C-USA TV
Evidently, Ron Cooper is Florida International’s Ed Orgeron. The veteran assistant is 2-0 as the interim head coach since the firing of Ron Turner, leading the Panthers to wins over Florida Atlantic and UTEP. FIU is actually in a three-way tie atop the Conference USA East Division, a stark contrast to their 0-4 start to the campaign. Charlotte is feeling upbeat, too, handling Florida Atlantic on the road last week to snap a nine-game conference losing streak. Since both schools are 2-4, this is one of those must-win matchups to maintain hopes of rallying to bowl eligibility in November.
What To Know About FIU
The Panther turnaround has been fueled by, yeah, a decline in the competition level. But also improved play on both sides of the ball. FIU has been balanced on offense, averaging 34 points in the wins, and effective against the pass. QB Alex McGough has been sharper, though he still needs to eliminate mistakes and turnovers. The most prominent catalysts in Miami have been the backs, Alex Gardner and Anthony Jones. Gardner is the proven vet, rushing for at least 100 yards in four of the last five games, while Jones has been a pleasant surprise with 218 yards the last two weeks.
What to Know About Charlotte
The one thing the Niners do well is run the ball, so they’ve feed leading rusher Kalif Phillips, particularly since the Panthers are giving up more than five yards a carry. However, Charlotte may have found a backfield complement to Phillips in newcomer QB Hasaan Klugh. In his first career start last week, the North Carolina A&T transfer completed 14-of-17 passes and accounted for 277 total yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers will need Klugh to make plays, because the team’s D is among the worst in the FBS.
Offense: Florida International. These two offenses are similarly inconsistent, though the Panthers have been hotter of late.
Defense: Florida International. The Panthers are No. 3 in the league in pass defense, while Charlotte has managed just two sacks in six games.
Special Teams: Florida International. The punting game is a mess, but PK Austin Taylor has been an asset by hitting 8-of-9 field goals.
Coaching: Charlotte. Cooper has done very well, but Brad Lambert is the architect of 49er football, and his staff hasn’t had to endure an in-season change at the top.
Intangibles: Charlotte. The 49ers are back at home, buoyed by last week’s win to snap the nagging Conference USA losing streak.
Matchup To Watch
Klugh vs. Florida International LB Treyvon Williams
It’s going to be interesting to see how Klugh develops and whether or not Lambert can build around him in the coming years. The sophomore will likely see plenty of speedy FIU linebackers Anthony Wint and Williams, who leads the team with 66 stops, five tackles for loss and three sacks.
Spread: Florida International -5.5
Charlotte vs. FIU Prediction
The Panthers have located a little groove under Cooper that won’t be stopped by Charlotte. Florida International has a better array of offensive weapons, including next-level TE Jonnu Smith, and more speed on defense. Klugh will misfire in the face of the Panther secondary, while Williams and Wint zero in on stopping Phillips before he can get into second gear. FIU will make it three straight, improving Cooper’s case for the removal of his interim title by December.
Charlotte vs. FIU Score Prediction: Florida International 34, Charlotte 27