Ryan Mayer

The college football bowl season is upon us. With 39 games spread out over the next two and a half weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile. Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline. Find all our picks here. All lines are as of the date of publication.

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

Temple (6-6) vs. Florida International (8-4)

Spread: Temple -7

Total: 56

Spread: After struggling to score through the first five games of the season (16.2 PPG), Temple’s offense picked up over the final seven games of the year (31 PPG). However, that coincided with a slide on the defensive end for the Owls who were allowing 22 points per game through the first five and then gave up a little over 26 points per through the last seven. One of the big differences has been the play of QB Frank Nutile since taking over for an injured Logan Marchi. Marchi has the stronger arm and is more of a dual-threat, but Nutile has been more accurate (60.8%) and is averaging more yards per attempt (7.9). The Owls are 3-2 in games where Nutile starts this season. The running game is split between Ryquell Armstead, David Hood and gadget player Isaiah Wright. That trio has combined for 1,309 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Golden Panthers, in the first year under Butch Davis, recorded just their third above .500 record in program history and their second eight win season. The offense was led by QB Alex McGough who completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,791 yards and 17 touchdowns with just eight interceptions this year. His top target, Thomas Owens (59 receptions 887 yards 6 TD), is doubtful to play in this game after injuring his knee and missing the final two games of the season. The running game will try and pick up some of the slack with Alex Gardner (171 carries 765 yards 6 TD) and Shawndarrius Phillips (98 carries 453 yards 4 TD). The defense has struggled, giving up 28.5 points per game, a point and change more than the Owls this season.

Both teams are actually averaging giving up more points on defense than they’ve scored on offense this season. They’ve also both gone 6-6 ATS, making this a match-up that largely feels even. Temple is 3-3 as a favorite this year while FIU is 6-3 as an underdog. That lends me to believe the Panthers will likely cover the seven points here as there’s not much separating these two teams. FIU +7

Total: The Panthers have hit the total seven times and pushed once this season while the Owls are 6-6 against the total. However, both teams have hit the over in each of their last four games (Temple actually the last 5). With how much the defenses have struggled as of late for both of these teams, the over seems like the better choice here. Over 56


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