TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- In a game featuring two punchless
offenses -- and no thrown punches -- Alabama got all the big blows it
needed from defense and special teams.
Freshman Javier Arenas returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown
and Ramzee Robinson scored on a 34-yard interception return in the
Crimson Tide's 38-3 win over the undermanned Golden Panthers on
The winless Golden Panthers (0-8) were playing without nine
starters and nine reserves who were suspended or dismissed for
their actions in an ugly brawl in their last game two weeks ago
They still managed to keep it close for awhile against Alabama
(6-3), which was coming off a 16-13 loss at No. 8 Tennessee.
"They've got a lot of pride," Tide coach Mike Shula said.
"They stuck it out in a very, very difficult situation."
FIU, a 36-point underdog, appeared undaunted by the heavy odds,
taking a 3-0 lead into the second quarter, trailing only 10-3 at
halftime and even managing a goal line stand.
"We brought 52 (players) and we had five or six hurt, so we
were down in numbers," Golden Panthers coach Don Strock said.
"But I'm very proud of the way they hung in there, the first half
"Our concern in the second half was getting worn down because
of the numbers we had."
Alabama got a scare when quarterback John Parker Wilson limped
off the field on the final drive of the first half after
aggravating a sprained left ankle. He returned for the first two
series after the half, but threw only an incompletion.
"I didn't think he'd be able to come back out and play," Shula
Wilson, who urged the coaches to let him play, said he expected
to play against Mississippi State.
"They asked me how I felt and I told them I wanted to go back
in. The doctor said OK," said Wilson, who finished 8-of-13 for 72
yards, easily a season low.
He also had a 9-yard touchdown pass to Le'Ron McClain.
The announced crowd of 92,138 topped the previous high for an
FIU game -- against the Hurricanes -- by more than 40,000. They
weren't subjected to any fisticuffs.
The Golden Panthers were perfect citizens against the Tide, not
even drawing a personal foul penalty. They made plenty of other
damaging mistakes in the second half.
First, Arenas raced down the left sideline for a touchdown after
appearing to get bottled up behind a blocker upon fielding the
"The blockers did what they were supposed to do and I did what
I was supposed to do, and it just resulted in perfect execution,"
Then, Chance Attaway fumbled and Simeon Castille returned it 11
yards to the FIU 7. Attaway was one of three FIU players making
their first career starts.
Four plays later, Tim Castille -- Simeon's brother -- scored on a
1-yard plunge up the middle. Castille had failed to score on a
fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the first half.
"It definitely hurt me when we couldn't get it in," Castille
said. "That was tough."
Shula had opted for a field goal in the same situation late in
the first half against Tennessee.
Robinson turned the game into a bigger route after stepping in
front of Josh Padrick's pass with a clear path to the end zone in
the fourth quarter. Alabama backup quarterback Jimmy Barnes capped
his first significant action with an 8-yard touchdown pass to
The Tide's only touchdown in the first half came after they took
over at the FIU 33 following Forress Rayford's blocked punt,
finally giving the team's restless fans something to cheer.
Until that point, it was a tight game, but that wasn't much
solace to Golden Panthers linebacker Keyonvis Bouie.
"I never go into the game thinking we're going to lose, no
matter who we play," Bouie said. "Even though with our situation
most guys had written us off, I think we came out with a lot of
intensity and ready to play. A lot of people didn't expect that of
"But me personally, I'm not proud of this."
Neither team supplied much consistent offense. Alabama finished
with 224 total yards and FIU 175, including just 40 yards on 27
FIU set up its only score, a 37-yard field goal by Justin
Rivest, with Padrick's 68-yard pass to freshman Jeremy Dickens.
Padrick finished 8-of-24 for 134 yards.
Tide receiver Keith Brown missed his second straight game with
an ankle injury.