No one knows what bowl this is, but it used to be the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl and before that it was Beef ‘O’ Brady’s if that helps. Now it’s under the sponsor Bad Boy Mowers and named the Gasparilla Bowl, which is played at Tropicana Field where MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays play. This should be a fun one between Temple and FIU, two teams that figured out their offenses late in the season. The Owls were early -7 point favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Temple is a favorite mostly because it comes out of the American conference, which is slightly better than Conference USA. The Owls best win came against Navy, but other than that really struggled for consistency from losing at home to UConn to getting blown out 43-7 to USF.
It’s a similar situation for Florida International, although it has a couple more wins against bowl eligible teams. The Golden Panthers also came through with 104 points scored in the final two Games of the season, which could be huge in this one. The two teams have multiple like opponents with FIU losing at UCF 61-17 and Temple losing at home 45-19. FIU beat UMass in the season closer 63-45, while Temple won early in the season 29-21.
Defensively, these teams are posting similar numbers, although Temple is considered better because it’s played a number of high-flying offenses in the American conference. Then again, giving up 28 points in a loss to UConn isn’t great. The Owls have been exploited at times this season and will get a great test against Alex McGough and company.
McGough has come around in his senior season posting his career-best Raw QBR (71.7) by a good margin. Most importantly, he has a 65.3 completion percentage and just one interception thrown in the last Four Games. Top wide out Thomas Owens will likely miss this Game with a knee injury, which definitely hurts, but the offense has been fine without him in the last three Games. The Panthers would be smart to get a ground Game going between their trio because Temple isn’t great against the run, allowing more than 180 yards per Game. FIU has been fairly balanced and averaged 4.4 yards per carry as a team so that could help.
On the other side, Temple has to step up against an FIU defense that’s been lit up a few times by good offenses. Then again, the Panthers have showed up numerous times like in the 41-17 win against WKU. The problem for the Owls is that their offense isn’t all that good, although has shown a bit more with Frank Nutile at quarterback. While he’s tossed six interceptions in his five starts, he’s been a bit more explosive than Logan Marchi for this offense. That should prove to be plenty helpful against this pass defense that allows more than 240 yards per Game. Temple will try and get running backs David Hood and Ryquell Armstead going early and if that works, it will be tough to overcome for this defense.
Seven points feels like a big spread for a number of reasons, but if Temple can move the ball on the FIU defense, it will be tough for the Panthers to keep pace, no matter what McGough does. The Owls are 1-4 ATS in their last five non-Conference Games, but have covered in their last Four against C-USA. The Golden Panthers are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five neutral-site Games.
Our Pick – Florida International +7