Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#307 FIU 51.5 vs.
#308 Louisiana Tech -7
Friday, September 20, 2019 at 8:00pm EDT
Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston
Written by Ricky Dimon

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#307 Florida International University
#308 Louisiana Tech University
1-2
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-2
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19
22
26
21

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The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will try to extend their winning streak to three games when they entertain the Florida International Panthers at Joe Aillet Stadium on Friday night.

Who’s at quarterback?

Florida International is 0-1 in Conference-USA with a loss to Western Kentucky among its 1-2 overall record. The Panthers also fell at Tulane before most recently defeating FCS New Hampshire 30-17 this past weekend. Offense–or lack thereof–has been the issue for them so far in 2019. They are scoring just 19.3 points per game while averaging 307 yards per contest (including a mere 133 through the air). Quarterback James Morgan is questionable for Saturday, so Kaylan Wiggins could continue to see action in his place. Wiggins already has 168 passing yards and 212 rushing yards in his backup role on head coach Butch Davis’ squad.

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Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz is preparing to face either QB. “Offensively, the question is which quarterback are we going to see? I think they’re both very talented in their own right. I know that Morgan went down a couple weeks ago and have heard a lot of different things about his health. Where the reality lies in that, I’m not sure, but right now we are looking at it like we could face either quarterback. If Morgan is back, he’s got a great arm. He can pinpoint his passes and has a big league arm. I think he’s one of the better draft-eligible prospects coming out of Conference-USA this year. Wiggins went in for him after the injury and didn’t disappoint. He rushed for 190 yards as a quarterback and helped them win the game. He brings a different dimension to their team and to their offense. We are planning for both of them.”

“He can throw [too],” Davis said of Wiggins. “You saw that one gigantic completion (a 40-yarder to Maurice Alexander). He just has to get calmed down. I think our team will benefit from him [having played against WKU].”

Defensively, FIU is giving up 26.3 ppg and 418 ypg, including almost 200 per outing on the ground. On the bright side, Davis’ squad limited New Hampshire to 146 rushing yards and 370 total yards.

Getting defensive

Louisiana Tech suffered an understandable season-opening loss at Texas before bouncing back with defeats of Grambling and Bowling Green. This marks the Conference-USA opener for the Bulldogs, who went 8-5 (5-3) last year and beat Hawaii in the…you guessed it…Hawaii Bowl. They have been getting the job done mostly with defense so far this year, allowing just 22 points and 399.7 yards per game.

Louisiana Tech putting up 23 points and 418.7 yards per contest behind quarterback J’Mar Smith, who has thrown or 818 yards and five touchdowns. Four receivers have already amassed more than 115 yards; Griffin Hebert has 10 catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Tech’s leading rusher is Justin Henderson, who has racked up 136 yards and one TD. Running back Jaqwis Davis would normally shoulder most of the load, but a virus is the latest of his ongoing physical problems.

“We’ve struggled to keep him healthy,” Holtz lamented. “Hopefully he can continue to play more of a prominent role. I would love to see him carry the ball 20 times a game. We just need to make sure he gets the appropriate work during the week to be prepared for those moments.”

Amik Robertson is leading the defense with 19 tackles, four pass deflections, and an interception.

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Florida International showed plenty of improvement against New Hampshire, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Granted the competition level was weaker, but it should still help restore some confidence heading into this matchup with Louisiana Tech. Dancy’s limitations will not help the Panthers’ offense, which is off to an unspectacular start to this 2019 campaign. The Panthers are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven on the road against opponents with winning home records, 4-1 ATS in their last five after rushing for more than 200 yards in their previous outing, and 6-2 ATS in their last eight following a win.

Prediction: Florida International Panthers

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Neither team is likely to completely open the playbook on Saturday. The offenses should be relatively conservative, especially on the Florida International side regardless of who is under center. Third-down conversions have been especially problematic for the Panthers, who will have their hands full with Louisiana Tech’s confident defense. The under is 8-1 in the Bulldogs’ last nine overall, 4-0 in their last four at home, 4-0 in their last four conference games, 5-0 in their last five against opponents with losing records, and 4-0 in their last four following a win. Look for this one to stay under the total.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Ricky Dimon

A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to joining the Winners & Whiners Staff, he worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.