How much was riding on this game for the Golden Panthers? Everything.
This game was the fight for bowl game eligibility, the continuation of their season, and a winning season.
But they could not come up with the victory.
FIU now finishes the season 5-7, just one win short of bowl eligibility.
This game was hard to watch. FIU had no resistance to the Western Kentucky offense, and could execute anything on the offensive side. There was no fire in a team that desperately needed a win.
Western Kentucky scored 21 points in the first quarter, 14 more in the second quarter, and then 21 more points in the third quarter.
The game brought back memories of last year’s lost season, and displayed a 63-7 Western Kentucky win.
The usual heroes were shutdown on another level this game. Quarterback Alex McGough competed 17 of 30 passes and threw for 95 yards and 2 interceptions. Running back Alex Gardner rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown, but only picked up 9 carries in his final game of the season.
This was clearly not the season FIU had in mind. They had high hopes starting the season after defeating the UCF Knights 15-14 in the first game of the season on a blocked field goal. They were quickly brought back to reality; however, when they took their first loss of the season—which happened to be the second game of the season—against the University if Indiana.
From that loss the season was a roller coaster. A win here, a loss there, a win here, a loss there.
But one big truth about this season was that there were too many games that should have been won. The loss to Louisiana Tech, the loss to UMass, and the loss to FAU were all very winnable games that could’ve put FIU in a bowl game.
If there is one thing this team needs to take away from this season it’s this: come up with the win in games they should win. This team should have ended the season 8-4, but they ended up 5-7 because of an inability to execute.
The good news for Golden Panther fans; however, is that it does look like Quarterback Alex McGough will stay, and the same goes for Running Back Alex Gardner. They are both sophomores with promise, and this way they get bigger and better for next year.
Another hope for some FIU fans is to see Columbus graduate Austin Maloney get some playing time. He was a freshman this season, so it looks like he will be getting some time in 2016.
All the panthers can do now is prep. That is all they can do to get ready for next season—move on from this one.