Temple Owls (6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. Florida International Golden Panthers (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS)
College Football Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Thursday December 21st, 2017. 8:00PM (EST)
Where: Tropicana Field St. Petersburg, F.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TEM -7/FIU +7
Over/Under Total: 56
The Temple Owls will meet the Florida International Golden Panthers next Thursday in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl at Tropicana Field. Formerly known as the St. Petersburg Bowl, the Gasparilla Bowl has typically featured American Athletic Conference teams against Conference USA opponents which will be the case again this year with the Owls and Golden Panthers. This years pairing marks the 10th anniversary of the Gasparilla Bowl. Despite the young bowl history, the Gasparilla Bowl has featured several classic games and emerging talents. Mohamed Sanu, Blake Bortles, and Jacoby Brissett are examples of names that have won the Gasparilla Bowl MVP who have transitioned into prominent roles in the NFL.
This year we will keep an eye on several players who have the potential to develop into big names at the next level while we keep our focus on the overall matchup itself between the Owls and Golden Panthers. For Temple, they have battled through somewhat of a rebuilding year in Geoff Collins inaugural season to earn their 3rd straight bowl appearance. Despite back to back 10 win seasons in 2015 and 2016, the Owls will try to do something they have not been able to do since 2010 and only twice in their school history in terms of winning a postseason bowl game.
The 6-6 SU and 6-6 ATS Owls season started with struggles at the quarterback position and offensive productivity issues. Luckily, the Owls settled with quarterback Frank Nutile after benching Logan Marchi. Nutile completed 60.8% passing for 1,346 yards with 11 touchdowns and 7 picks in his 5 starts to close the season. In those starts, the Owls seemingly turned the corner. They went 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS. They lost to Army in overtime but captured wins against Navy, Cincinnati, and Tulsa. The improvement on offense behind Nutile has been paramount towards Temples chances of winning football games because frankly their defense has played poorly all year. The Owls run stop unit ranks 83rd in the FBS allowing 183 yards per game and have allowed 27.7 (74th in FBS) points per game as a team.
Luckily Florida International physical makeup is similar in fashion. The Golden Panthers have struggled even more statistically than Temple and usually rely on their offense to bring them out of the cellar. Coach Butch Davis has done a great job in his first year at Florida International as he looks to regain a spark on his legacy in college football. Ironically Davis is looking to seal his legacy where everything began in Miami. The former Hurricanes Head Coach took the Golden Panthers to new heights this year by tying their school record with 8 victories and earning their first postseason appearance since 2011.
However, the Golden Panthers are currently listed as 7 point underdogs in their Gasparilla Bowl matchup with Temple. Like the Owls, FIU has struggled significantly on the defensive side of the ball giving up 28.5 points per game and often relies on the offense to bail them out of trouble. Quarterback Alex McGough has been the guy that has carried the offense this season. McGough has produced quality results completing 65% of his passes for 2,791 yards with 17 touchdowns and 8 picks. The challenge McGough will have against Temple is that he will be without leading receiver Thomas Owens who is expected to be held out with a knee injury. Owens has accounted for more than 30% of the offenses total receiving yards this year so this will be a heavy blow for the offense. Luckily, the Golden Panthers still have other options. Running back Alex Gardner has been solid as the lead back while both Shawndarrius Phillips and Napoleon Maxwell have provided effective secondary efforts in the run game. Surely, FIU will need a big collective effort from all of their weapons on offense in effort to score the upset over Temple.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Both teams have been trending upwards with Temple covering 4 of their last 5 games and FIU covering 5 of their last 7 games. I personally believe FIU is on a level playing field in terms of talent and execution. Therefore, I think the points are just extra. Take FIU +7 - Move the line on this game up to 20 points by inserting it into a 20 point football teaser at the web’s best sportsbook: 5dimes!