The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl in Nassau will be played between Florida International and Toledo. Both of these teams come into this game with rather similar schedules in what I believe to be similar conferences. Toledo has 5 losses, but all of those losses did come to bowl teams. That they are not a “bad” team is a decent selling point, but their best win is basically non-existent. I believe that Toledo is a pretty predictable team, and so is FIU. Both teams have really stayed consistent all year long and we haven’t seen massive swings with either of them this year. I think that FIU’s Middle Tennessee win is probably the most impressive, but that is still an 8-6 team that already lost their bowl game.
Injured QB Could Throw FIU Off
This lack of outlier results on either side of the spectrum should make this game rather easy to analyze, but they always seem to throw a curveball at us. FIU’s starting QB for every single game this season is out with a tricep injury. This is obviously concerning, considering that he was Conference USA’s top incoming player this season. With him out, we expect senior Christian Alexander to get the start. Alexander is a worse passer and a better runner than Morgan. I really do not think that this will be a major drop off if they have the playbook to support his playstyle. There will not be a ton of recent tape on how this offense will be with a run-heavier quarterback. If FIU can exploit this new tool, they may actually get a strange benefit from downgrading in talent. Obviously this will hurt their team’s offense, but it could also give them more things to throw the defense off than you normally see after giving out 12 games of tape.
Both Teams Rely On Defense
Defensively, FIU is considered to be slightly better and I think that the schedules kind of play that out as well. FIU held Miami to 31 a week after Toledo allowed 49 to them. Although it is worth noting that the total yardage allowed was very similar in this game. FIU ranks around 63 in total yardage while Toledo is slightly over 100th in the country in the same metric. Toledo’s strength of schedule is about 30 spots better than FIU’s, but that is another pretty similar number comparatively speaking.
When looking into these metrics, you want to find a few that can really swing the game one way or another based on a couple of things one team does much better or worse. That just really doesn’t pop here at all. These teams are very comparable, and I believe that these resumes may be some of the closest we will see in all of the bowl season. I think if you had to rank every single bowl team coming into the season, these two would both make good arguments to be right next to each other.
Rockets vs. Panthers Prediction
The spread in this game is -7 in favor of Toledo. The only real explanation for that being the case is the FIU quarterback situation. I think that if this game was each team at full strength and a pick’em, I would want nothing to do with it. That being said, it’s not. This game and these teams are simply too similar to give 7 points to either team here.
I think there is probably too much weight put into this quarterback change. They have had a few weeks to practice with the change, and I think it will not be as the line would indicate. Morgan is the better QB by all accounts, but it would not surprise me to see Christian Alexander be productive on the ground in this game, which is something that the Golden Panthers have used all year. Alexander has 14 rushing attempts for 98 yards while completing 19 of 29 passes in his limited time. I’ll gladly take the 7 points and the backup QB here and roll with Florida International.