The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 18, 2013

Season of disaster for Panthers

FIU’s only victory was 1 point over Southern Miss

T.Y. Hilton is in Indianapolis, catching touchdown passes as Andrew Luck’s new top threat in the absence of veteran Reggie Wayne.

Coach Mario Cristobal is now in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as the offensive line coach for the No. 1 Crimson Tide.

Most of the personnel that was at Florida International the last time it played Marshall is gone.

Also gone are all the wins.

Marshall (7-3, 5-1 Conference USA) will play its last road game of the regular season Saturday at FIU. Kickoff will be 6 p.m. and the game will be televised on Fox College Sports Central.

The Panthers (1-9, 1-5) are suffering through one of the worst seasons in college football. They have lost to the likes of Bethune-Cookman (34-13), Louisiana Tech (23-7) and, last week, UTEP (33-10).

They have been shut out three times, including a whopping 72-0 embarrassment at Louisville.

Their only win came when they eked out a 24-23 win over Southern Miss, which has now lost 22 straight games. The following week, FIU lost 27-24 to UAB.

Marshall beat Southern Miss and UAB by a combined 117-27.

“We’ve just got to stay together as a team,” first-year FIU coach Ron Turner told the Miami Herald. “Keep fighting, keep fighting and keep getting better.”

Indeed, FIU has seen better days. The Panthers are at or near the bottom of most league statistical categories, including last in scoring offense (10.1 points per game) and last in total offense (223.7 yards).

One of FIU’s biggest problems — the inability to stop the run — came to the fore against UTEP. The Miners ran for 327 yards against FIU, which is 11th in the league at 201.6 rush yards allowed per game.

“They kept running it, but not internally,” FIU defensive tackle Isame Faciane said. “They kept running to the outside.”

The Panthers trailed by just10, 17-7, at halftime but could not hang on.

“We just couldn’t keep it going,” Turner said. “Turnovers and things like that. We just couldn’t do it.”

Marshall last played FIU in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl in 2011, winning 20-10.

— E-mail: gfauber@

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@GaryFauber

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