Yes, it is that bad.
In the 10-year history of the Shula Bowl, Florida Atlantic has dominated Florida International eight of the nine previous meetings.
FIU’s lone Shula Bowl win was a 52-6 rout in 2005 that was later vacated by the NCAA.
So heading into Shula Bowl X, even despite their 0-8 standing, the Owls had every reason to believe that they could pull out their ninth Shula Bowl title.
On the first two drives of Shula Bowl X, it looked like the winless Owls might stand a chance.
But those hopes were quickly dashed on the first of Graham Wilbert’s three interceptions ended the only productive drive for the Owls of the first half, in which they fell behind in a 31-0 hole.
The tempers were already flaring in this heated rivalry and FAU ended the first half with 10 penalties for 97 yards. They finished with 14 penalties for 142 yards.
“It doesn’t make any difference what it’s a product of,” said Coach Howard Schnellenberger. “It cannot happen.”
Following the 41-7 blowout loss, all Schnellenberger could do was apologize about his team’s embarrassing play in the first half.
“I have to apologize to Paul Bryant and Blanton Collier and Don Shula and all of the people I learned how to play and coach football from,” he said. “I want to apologize to Florida Atlantic University for the first half of football that we played here today.”
Anything and everything that could go wrong for a football team has gone wrong with FAU this season.
I have to emphasize with sports writers that have to cover teams, such as the 0-16 Detroit Lions. It’s hard to watch a team lose week after week after week. It’s hard to watch a team come close in some contests and get blown out in others. It’s hard to watch young men give everything they’ve got and still come out of it empty-handed and embarrassed.
With New Mexico’s 21-14 win over UNLV on Saturday, FAU is the only winless team left in the nation. They also have the longest active losing streak with 12, dating back to last season.
But there are still three games left for the Owls to narrowly escape what could be Schnellenberger’s only winless season. FAU will face the second to last team in the Sun Belt in Troy next Saturday and will host UAB and Louisiana-Monroe in the final two games.
But the good news is that it can’t really get much worse.
Actually, the winless season would be the final blow in a season that is garnering a reputation for historic in all of the wrong ways.