Panthers Will Look Golden Against Rockets In Bahamas Bowl

fiu panthers

Rainman M.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 6:50 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018 6:50 PM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on the Bahamas Bowl. The game from Nassau, Bahamas, is Friday, December 21, at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN. Bet confidently with tips from SBRpicks.com.

Bahamas Bowl: FIU (8-4 SU, 9-3 ATS) vs. Toledo (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS)Friday, Dec. 21, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau, BahamasFree NCAAF Pick: Golden Panthers ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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With eight wins, FIU tied its program record for most in a single season. FIU is 1-2 SU and ATS in bowl games. Last year was its first bowl game under current coach Butch Davis, a 28-3 loss as seven-point underdogs against Temple. Toledo has a richer bowl history, going 10-7 SU all-time in bowls and 2-3 ATS in its last five. Under current coach Jason Candle, the Rockets are 1-2 SU and ATS in bowl games.

How They Got Here

Toledo was fourth in the MAC West. It’s won and covered four of its past five games. It won those four games by at least 20 points while its loss likewise came by more than 20 points. FIU is also enjoying a positive streak, having covered three in a row. The end of its season was disappointing, though, because its loss to Marshall prevented it from playing in the Conference USA title game. The Golden Panthers finished third in conference standings.

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Why Toledo Can Win/Cover

Toledo can run the ball well. The Rockets rank 18th in averaging 224 yards per game. Bryant Koback leads the team with 875 yards, 6.3 YPC and 13 touchdowns. He’s accrued 216 yards in the past two games combined and was a big reason why Toledo scored over 50 points in those two. In four games in which Koback ran for at least 90 yards, Toledo scored over 50 points every time. The Rockets won each of those and covered three.

The Rockets can succeed on the ground against an FIU defensive line that ranks 115th in opportunity rate, which measures the frequency of opposing carries that accumulated at least four yards. In other words, FIU’s defensive line is easy to shove around. Toledo, whose offensive line ranks fourth in opportunity rate, can rely on its ground game.

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MOOD when you find out @FIUFootball is going bowling in the Bahamas! #PawsUp #PantherPride https://t.co/th2YKhWg2j 🏈 pic.twitter.com/5h9kTA3LUn

— FIU (@FIU) November 26, 2018
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Why FIU Can Win/Cover

FIU can pass at will. James Morgan used to play for Bowling Green. In 2016, he faced a Toledo pass defense that ranks very similarly to what it does now and that was led by the same coaching staff. In that game, he threw for over 300 yards and five touchdowns. Still, Morgan has grown a lot since then. He completes 65 percent of his passes, averages eight yards per attempt, and boasts a 26:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His top weapons are CJ Worton and Austin Maloney, both of whom have over 580 receiving yards. FIU is 4-2 ATS when Morgan doesn’t throw a pick.

Morgan can thrive against a Toledo secondary that has been relatively untested. It didn’t have to face the conference’s best quarterback, Nathan Rourke, or the second-best in terms of passer rating, Jon Wassink. Nevertheless, it only ranks 73rd in opposing passer rating.

Common Opponent/Series History

Both teams faced Miami and were never really competitive. Toledo still had its starting quarterback Mitchell Guadagni then, who is now out for the season. Koback mustered only 23 yards on the ground, although Guadagni still had a pretty good game. Toledo couldn’t stop Miami’s ground game, though, and lost 49-24. FIU was down 31-0 before vainly winning the fourth quarter 17-0. Miami proved too powerful for Morgan and it gave FIU the same lethal dose of its ground game that it gave Toledo.

Final Verdict

FIU will cover because it can supplement its offensive strength much more effectively than Toledo can. The Golden Panthers boast two running backs who average over 5.5 YPC, Napoleon Maxwell and D’Vonte Price. The duo combined for 141 yards on only 17 carries against a Marshall team that ranks fourth nationally in opposing YPC. Toledo, like Marshall, will struggle to respect FIU’s balanced offensive attack. Toledo’s front seven definitely lacks the ability to hold its own against FIU’s ground game. The Rockets rank 112th in number of opposing rushes of at least four yards allowed.

Conversely, Toledo takes a big hit with the loss of Guadagni at quarterback. Guadagni’s passer rating is 31.5 higher than that of backup Eli Peters thanks to his superior completion percentage, yards per pass attempt, and touchdown-to-interception ratio. FIU’s secondary ranks top 50 in opposing passer rating and has picked off the seventh-most passes. It will keep Toledo one-dimensional.

Check Out Bahamas Bowl Betting Trends & History

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