ULM (7-4) at FIU (3-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 24, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FIU Stadium (20,000) -- Miami, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: ULM 3-2, FIU 1-4. Away Record: ULM 4-2, FIU 2-4. Neutral Record: ULM 0-0, FIU 0-0. Conference Record: ULM 5-2, FIU 2-5. Series Record: ULM leads, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: The ULM Warhawks and the FIU Panthers will face off in a Sun Belt Conference showdown on Saturday night in the regular season finale for both teams.
ULM was in first place in the Sun Belt following an Oct. 27 win over South Alabama, but it promptly fell in the standings with consecutive losses to Louisiana (40-24) and Arkansas State (45-23). The Warhawks were able to bounce back last week with a 42-16 home win over North Texas, thus claiming their school-record seventh win and assuring themselves their first winning season since becoming a FBS program.
FIU has had a down season with eight losses, but it has redeemed itself somewhat lately. The Panthers have won back-to-back games for the first time this year following road wins over South Alabama (28-20) and Florida Atlantic (34-24).
ULM has a 5-2 advantage over FIU in the all-time series, although the Panthers have captured each of the last two meetings.
A big reason for ULM's recent two-game slide was because star quarterback Kolton Browning missed time with an injury, but with his return to the field last week, the offense (36.6 ppg, 461.5 ypg) returned to its potent form.
Browning barely skipped a beat in his return to action, completing 25-of-34 passes for 324 yards and he accounted for four total touchdowns. On the season, the signal-caller has completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,612 passing yards, has rushed for a team-best 439 yards, and has racked up 32 total touchdowns.
Brent Leonard has been on fire lately in the receiving game, as he's recorded at least eight catches and 93 yards in four consecutive games. He sits with 84 receptions, 944 yards, and nine touchdowns, all of which rank first or second in the Sun Belt. Je'Ron Hamm (51 receptions, 784 yards, six TDs) has been an outstanding No. 2 receiver.
The Warhawks go with a running back-by-committee approach now that Jyruss Edwards (438 yards, six TDs) has been lost for the season. Monterrell Washington (345 yards, six TDs) gets the majority of the work, although DaVontae McNeal (198 yards, two TDs) and Mitchell Bailey (122 yards, two TDs) each scored last week.
The ULM defense (28.8 ppg, 411.5 ypg) has not played up to snuff this season, but it has done a solid job in the turnover battle with 22 takeaways.
Isaiah Newsome has four interceptions to go along with eight passes defended and 51 tackles. R.J. Young has 80 tackles, an interception, and two fumble recoveries, while Ray Stovall (53 tackles) has made 10.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Despite its poor record, FIU's offense (25.7 ppg, 385.7 ypg) has played well at times, as it did last week when it put up 431 yards.
Jake Medlock has been surprisingly strong under center. While he's only completing 57.8 percent of his passes, he throws for 236.3 ypg and has 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions.
Fresh off a 99-yard performance last week, Kedrick Rhodes (657 yards, four TDs) has shown he can do damage out of the backfield in spite of a suspect offensive line.
Wayne Times (55 receptions, 539 yards, two TDs) is Medlock's safety valve, but both Jacob Younger (404 yards, three TDs, 16.2 ypc) and Willis Wright (555 yards, four TDs, 24.1 ypc) have emerged as quality deep threats.
The Panthers defense (32.5 ppg, 418.2 ypg) has been a problem all season long, but the unit managed to force a pair of turnovers in last week's win.
Johnathan Cyprien is one of the conference's top tacklers with 89 stops and he's also picked off a team-high four passes. Tourek Williams can cause a disruption behind the line of scrimmage with 13.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
With Browning on the field, ULM is one of the best team's in the Sun Belt, and while his unfortunate injury may have cost the Warhawks their shot at the conference title, his return should ensure an eight-win season and most likely a bowl game to follow.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: ULM 44, FIU 30
11/21 10:54:09 ET