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St. Petersburg Bowl
Florida International vs. Marshall
Tuesday, Dec. 20, 8:00 pm
This upcoming Tuesday, the Florida International Golden Panthers, out of the Sun Belt Conference will look to keep their season-ending winning streak alive when they tangle with the Conference-USA’s Marshall Thundering Herd in this year’s Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida.
FIU’s bowl eligibility was somewhat in doubt this year after a mid-season slump in which it dropped three of four games, leaving the team 5-4 straight-up with three games left to play.
The strong point of this Panthers’ team this season has been a shutdown defense that finished the year ranked 16th in the nation in points allowed; giving-up an average of just 19.4 points a game. Since getting tagged with 34 points in an 18-point loss to Arkansas State on Oct.18 as a 3.5-point road underdog, FIU has given-up an average of just 14.2 points in its last five games.
One injury note that still concerns me is Panthers quarterback Jake Medlock missed the final game of the season after hurting his shoulder in Week 12 and remains questionable at this time.
Marshall’s journey to this bowl game was even more perilous considering it needed victories in its last two games just to qualify with an overall record of 6-6 SU (7-5 ATS). The Herd finished the season second in C-USA’s East Division at 5-3 SU.
The primary reason for the Herds’ struggles this year has been an inconsistent offense that has averaged just 22 points a game and only managed to score 30 or more points twice this year.
Marshall’s defense has also been sketchy as best, giving-up an average of 30.2 points a game, which is ranked 84th in Division-IA.
Both these team’s current form and past trends favor a low-scoring contest, making the under a possibility considering the current 48.5-point line. It remains high enough despite the drop from its open. I usually wait until closer to game time to make a decision on the totals. If you play the side in this game, stick with FIU’s defense to carry the team to a win that covers the four points. I have Florida International winning this game by 3 touchdowns and that makes this one of my favorite plays of the bowl season at this time.
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL -4
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL/MARSHALL UNDER 49 POINTS (Opinion)