Florida International Golden Panthers (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) at Arkansas State Red Wolves (4-2 SU, 5-1 ATS), Tuesday October 18th, 2011. 8:00PM EST, College Football Week 8, ASU Stadium Jonesboro, Ark.
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: FIU +3/Arkansas St. -3
Over/Under Total: OFF
College football returns early this week (Tuesday night) when the Arkansas State Red Wolves host the Florida International Golden Panthers in a collision between Sun Belt Conference rivals. The Red Wolves appear to be a bit of a surprise this year. After two straight 4-8 seasons, Arkansas State has jumped out to an unexpected 4-2 start and remain undefeated in conference play. This week the Red Wolves look to stay unbeaten as they take the primetime spotlight on Tuesday night.
Arkansas State’s nemesis this Tuesday will be a Florida International team that has also jumped out to a respectable 4-2 start. The Panthers previously defeated Louisville 24-17 on the Friday night stage earlier this season and will get their 2nd chance to make a statement on the national stage. The Panthers enter Tuesday night’s game as the defending Sun Belt Conference Champions and expected to contend for the conference crown again this year. However, Florida International suffered an early conference loss previously this season and already sit at 1-1 in conference play. Therefore, this Tuesday night’s battle with the Red Wolves will be a pivotal point in the Panthers chances to repeat as conference champions.
For the Panthers to score the win, they will need a big performance from the defense this Tuesday night. The Red Wolves have a surprisingly strong passing game that has averaged a healthy 303 yards per game on the season. The Florida International pass defense has given up a ton of yards this season allowing 245 yards per game (89th in NCAA). Remember in both of the Panthers losses this season, the defense gave up more than 30 points in each of those games. Therefore, the Panthers will need solid play from the defensive side of the ball in effort to score the win.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Panthers have an electrifying talent in WR T.Y Hilton. Hilton has enormous playmaking ability and the Panthers offense will find many ways to get him the ball. Hilton currently leads the conference with 641 receiving yards with 4 scores. Hilton also has 82 additional yards on the ground on just 7 carries. It has been well-documented that when Hilton makes big plays the rest of the offense really feeds off his injury. So keep your eyes on #4 for the Panthers.
The guy that will have the responsibility of getting number 4 the ball will be QB Wesley Carroll. Carroll is having a very solid season completing 64% passing for 1,232 yards with 6 scores and just 1 pick. Carroll actually leads the Sun Belt Conference for QB rating and does a great job of protecting the football. This week Carroll and the passing attack will attack a Red Wolves secondary that has allowed 222 yards per game on the year.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Arkansas State has a big talent at the quarterback position in Ryan Aplin. Aplin has been very impressive this season by completing 66% passing for 1,646 yards and 6 scores. The huge problem with Aplin is he will make bad decisions and try to force the ball in situations that are unnecessary which has resulted in 8 picks on the year. Those 8 interceptions are tied for the 3rd most picks thrown out of any quarterback in the country.
It is safe to say that the Red Wolves have the players to move the football through the air as they have proved many times this season. WR Dwayne Frampton ranks 2nd in the conference with 606 yards receiving and 3 scores. Fellow WR Josh Jarboe has added support with an additional 413 receiving yards and 2 scores this season as well. Therefore if Aplin can simply protect the football and avoid the turnovers, the Red Wolves offense will definitely have the chance to score some points on Tuesday night.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I like Florida International in this one. Bet FIU +3.
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