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FAU players celebrate with the Shula Trophy after beating FIU in 2010, the last time the Owls beat the Panthers. (Photo courtesy of Owl Pix)

 Owl Pix

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'We want it back'

After last year's painful defeat to FIU, FAU players are motivated to bring the Shula Bowl Trophy back to Boca Raton.

Originally published on 11/14/2012

by Marcus Nelson

BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelini isn't stressing the importance of beating rival FIU this week in what could be the final Shula Bowl.

Apparently, FAU players don't need much extra motivation.

Owl players said there is plenty at stake this week when they face the Panthers at 8 p.m. Friday.

FAU is 8-2 in Shula Bowl games, but a bitter defeat in 2011 is what many players remember. The Owls were manhandled by the Golden Panthers 41-7 last season as the Panthers kept the Shula Trophy in Miami for just the second time.

“We're anxious to get it back after last season,” said Owls senior defensive back Keith Reaser. “That was extremely embarrassing.”

Some former FAU players have been talking to this year's team about winning the trophy back, including former linebacker Cergile Sincere, who was at practice this week talking to players about bringing the Shula Trophy back to Boca Raton.

“We want it back,” said FAU senior linebacker David Hinds. “This is my last one and I want to get that thing back regardless of how we get it done.”

Hinds, Reaser and many other players went to high schools in the Miami area and played with, against or know several FIU players. For the last year, they've been hearing it from their FIU friends and want to be the one's doing the talking.

“You never want to lose to FIU,” Reaser said. “You have to hear about it the rest of the year.”
 

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Breakdown Box

Shula Bowl is only bowl for FAU, FIU

BOCA RATON – In recent years, the Florida Atlantic-Florida International game has often been an important one in the Sun Belt Conference race or determining bowl eligibility for at least one of the teams.
Not this year.

The final Shula Bowl will feature two teams trying to stay out of the bottom of the Sun Belt Conference standings.

FAU, in a rebuilding season under first-year coach Carl Pelini, is in eighth place with a 2-4 conference record which is ahead of the 9th place prediction in the preseason poll.

FIU has a 1-5 league record and is in ninth place, after being selected as a pre-season favorite to win the conference.

However, FIU has been involved in some close games this season, including a 28-21 loss to Louisville earlier this season. The Panthers' last three losses have been by a combined 13 points.

“This is one of those years where almost every single one of their conference games came down to the last play,” Pelini said. “Some years you get those plays and some years you don't. You aren't looking at a team that is losing by a considerable amount.”

A year after making an appearance in the Beef O' Brady's Bowl, the Panthers are 2-8 overall with victories over Akron and South Alabama.

“They've got to be the best team in the nation with that record,” Pelini said. “They've just got to be.”
 

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