On Saturday, December 2, 2017, the 4-7 Massachusetts Minutemen travel to take on the 7-4 Florida International Golden Panthers. FIU snapped a two-game losing streak with a victory over Western Kentucky last week and looks to gain their eighth victory of the season against UMass.
This season, Massachusetts is 6-5 against the spread this season and they have gone 4-1 against the spread on the road this year. In their last 11 games, the Minutemen have gone over in six of those.
Florida International is 5-6 against the spread this season and they have gone 3-3 against the spread at home. This season they have gone over in seven of their 11 contests.
Minutemen vs. Golden Panthers
Spread: Massachusetts +1.5 (-110); Florida International -1.5 (-110) at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Moneyline: Massachusetts +105; Florida International -125
Totals: Over/Under 55.5 (-110)
UMass lost their first six games of the season before winning four of their last five. Their only loss was against No. 22 Mississippi State, but they pulled off an impressive six-point victory over BYU last weekend. This team is figuring things out and is not going to be a pushover against the Golden Panthers.
The Minutemen are scoring 29.3 points per game, led by quarterback Andrew Ford. Ford has thrown for 2575 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, but what is most impressive about the QB has been that he has just three interceptions in 309 attempts and is completing 62.5 percent of his passes. He’s got a great arm and doesn’t make mistakes.
Marquis Young is the leading rusher on the team with 857 yards and eight touchdowns. Young is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and will need to have one of the best games of his career to help Massachusetts pull off the upset.
UMass as a defense is allowing 29.3 points per game and has recorded 20 sacks this season. Leading the defense is Da’Sean Downey, who has 6.0 sacks and 19 tackles for loss this season. The leading tackler on the team is Bryton Barr who has 93 tackles this season and 4.0 sacks of his own. He also has an interception and a fumble recovery. It is going to have to be some big plays by key members of their defense that can help them pull out the victory.
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL GOLDEN PANTHERS
Florida international was 3-2 at one point but has moved themselves to 7-4 and has a shot at quality bowl game around Christmas time. What is surprising about this team is that they are averaging giving up three more points per contest than they are scoring, yet have three more victories than losses. That usually isn’t the equation for success but proves the Golden Panthers know how to win the close contests.
Leading the FIU offense is quarterback Alex McGough, who has thrown for 2496 yards and 14 touchdowns the season. McGough is also quite accurate, completing 64.1 percent of his passes, but he will force balls on occasion, throwing seven interceptions in 329 attempts this year.
This is a team that does not have a dominant running back, but they are averaging better than 145 yards per game on average. Five different players have rushed for at least 112 yards this season, led by Alex Gardner who has 657 yards and four touchdowns. They get the job done, battling for every yard and it is helped to make this a more balanced offense.
The Golden Panthers know how to get after the quarterback, recording 26 sacks this season, but they have generated just 12 turnovers and that is not the kind of combination you want when facing a quarterback like Ford. The Minutemen quarterback is already careful with his throws, so FIU should not expect that they are going to have extra chances on offense in this contest. Fermin Silva leads the team in sacks 7.0, and Brad Muhammad leads the team in interceptions with four.
Minutemen vs. Golden Panthers Betting Lines
This is a very interesting contest. Florida International looks to be the better team and they are playing at home, but they also are not the kind of team that gives themselves extra opportunities. In a game like this between two fairly evenly matched teams turnovers is usually the difference maker, and that is why you have to start considering the Minutemen to be the favorites. The oddsmakers already see this as a close contest, and that will likely be the case. Take Massachusetts and the points, and expect this game to finish slightly under 55.5.