Florida International Golden Panthers (0-0 SU, 0-0-0 PS, 0-0-0 O/U) vs Central Florida Knights (0-0 SU, 0-0-0 PS, 0-0-0 O/U)
When: 6:00 PM EDT, Thursday, August 31, 2017
Where: Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, Florida
Lines: Central Florida -17.5
College Football action between a couple of teams from the great state of Florida as the Florida International Golden Panther square off with the Central Florida Knights at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, Florida. This is the first game for both teams this year. The road team is 4-0 ATS the last four games in this series.
Can FIU Parlay Experience Into A Bowl Invite?
It will be interesting this year for the FIU Golden Panthers as they have a new head coach in Butch Davis, who is 79-43 in his coaching career, which spans 10 seasons and they are also the 5th most experienced team in the nation. The Golden Panthers have been to just two bowl games in their history and none since 2011, but they have a shot at getting to one this year. FIU has seven starters back on offense, including QB Alex McGough, who was very average last year, but he is a senior and has back four of his top five receivers from last year and his top five ball carries as well. The one area of concern is an offensive line that has just two starters back and that line does rate 12th in the league. Last year the Golden Panthers were 97th in rushing, 69th in passing and 98th in total offense, while averaging just 24.0 ppg, which was 106th. Despite a weak line, they should top those numbers this year.
The defense was a mess for them last year as they ranked 104th in the nation in points allowed, giving up 34.8 ppg on the year. They also ranked 86th in run defense, 76th against the pass and 86th in total yards allowed. They had just five starters back last year from a unit that allowed 29.8 ppg in 2015, but this year they have back nine starters and lose just seven lettermen on this side of the ball. The defensive line is still week and the secondary is one of the worst in the league, but still, they have the 3rd rated linebacking corps in the league and Butch Davis does know defense. I see them improving on last year’s numbers. With 90.7% of their yards back (9th in nation) and 81% of their tackles back (8th), plus a great coaching hire in Butch Davis, it is hard to not see this team improve on last year’s 4-8 record and challenge for a bowl berth.
Scott Frost Turned Around The Knights Quickly
The Central Florida Knights made great strides in Scott Frost’s first year at the helm as they went from 0-12 in 2015 to 6-7 last year and an invite to the Cure Bowl, where they lost to Arkansas State 31-13. This year they should be able to notch a winning record overall and they are now in the 2nd year of Frost’s systems and the extra bowl practices last year will help them. The Knights averaged just 13.9 ppg in 2015, but upped that to 28.8 ppg last year and they should be even better this time around with nine starters back on offense. McKenzie Milton is back to run the offense at QB and should be ready for a breakout season. He has two of his top three RBs returning and eight of their top nine pass catchers as well, so this is an offense that should easily top 30+ ppg this year.
The defense also improved last year as they allowed 13.1 ppg less than they did in 2015, but they could take a slight step back this year as they have just four starters back and just one of their top six tacklers from last year. They are very solid in their front seven as they have the 3rd rated defensive line and 3rd rated linebacking corps in the league, but they really need help in the secondary where they have to replace all four starters. Despite, the holes at the backend of their defense, this team should allow less than 28 ppg. The Knights will be better than last year, especially with their offense and a strong front seven on defense leading the way and while they will come up just a bit short in their quest for the AAC East title, they should still post a winning record and make it to a bowl game form the 2nd year in a row.
- The Under is 4-0 in their last four games on grass
- The Under is 4-1 in their last five non-conference games
- The Under is 8-0 in their last eight home games
- The Under is 6-2-1 in their last nine non-conference games
This will be an interesting game between a couple of in-state rivals as the Golden Panthers look improved and will flirt with a bowl invite, while the Knights look to build on a 6-7 season a year ago. The Knights were a decent team on defense last year, but they may take a step back on that side of the ball. Still, the Golden Panthers are not a great offensive team and they will look to run the ball more with a solid ground attack. The Knights have a solid ground attack as well and will look to take aim at an FIU defense that was 86th in the land in run defense and their defensive line is not that great. These teams put up 67 points last year, but the previous four meetings averaged just 36.8 ppg and with a ground and pound game I will look for this one to stay Under the Total.