MIAMI – Florida International and Florida Atlantic continue preparing for Saturday's showdown.
Dubbed the "Shula Bowl," the rivalry will be important for both teams because it has conference implications.
"Anytime you play someone that's in your own backyard, players know each other a lot. Some of them played against each in their high school career. They played on teams together," FIU head coach Butch Davis said. "It's a conference game, so you've got to be focused. I think everyone respects and knows the talent level that FAU has. It's a big opportunity for us to stay on track."
FIU (6-2) is currently at the top of Conference USA's East Division with a 4-0 record. Although FAU won the C-USA last season, the Owls (3-5) are 1-3 in conference play.
"Obviously, a rivalry week and records aren't a big deal in these because guys are motivated on either side, regardless of who is better in the standings and things like that," Owls coach Lane Kiffin said this week.
Although the Owls won eight of the first nine meetings in the rivalry, the Panthers are 4-3 in their last seven games. FAU won 52-24 last year, but the Owls haven't won at FIU since 2009.
FIU and FAU meet at Riccardo Silva Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.