We have a Conference USA matchup between FIU (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS) and Western Kentucky (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) from Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium at 3:30pmET on Saturday.
FIU was off last Saturday and fell to Texas State 41-12 on Sept. 10 in their only FBS game of the season. They barely beat FCS Bryant 38-37 in overtime in their first game on Sept. 1.
The Hilltoppers are coming off a tough loss at Indiana in overtime (33-30) on the road last Saturday.
Last season, these teams met with Western Kentucky (-16.5) winning 34-19 on the road, but not covering the big number.
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Panthers were inept at Texas StateFIU has two weeks to think about the mistakes they made against Texas State on Sept. 10. The Panthers are a very young team with just four starters returning. They struggled on the ground (62 yards) and allowed 226 passing yards. The Bobcats scored on two long passes in the first half and their last score came on a 60-yard interception return. Sophomore quarterback Grayson James got the start and had mixed results with 196 yards passing and two picks. Gunnar Holmberg (103yds, 1 TD) started against Bryant in their overtime win and then suffered a concussion.
“We’re a young team and we’re fighting hard, I’m really proud of how hard they’re fighting and it’s a process,” said FIU head coach Mike MacIntyre. “The bye week for us actually is coming at a really good time because we’ll get to assess the team after two games and also get some guys healthy.”
Holmberg could play this week as a lot was expected of the Duke transfer, who threw for 2,358 yards with seven TDs and eight picks last year in Durham. The defense wasn't bad overall, but they allowed too many big plays. That can happen when you have nearly a completely new secondary, which includes several transfers. The bye week should all the Panthers to get some players back from injury as well as work on some of their deficiencies.
Tough defeat in BloomingtonWestern Kentucky had a 24-13 lead on the road against a Power Five team in the third quarter. Ok, so it was just Indiana, but to have that lead and then lose a 30-22 lead with 47 seconds left on a short TD pass and a 2-point conversion. Then to lose in overtime on a 51-yard field goal is painful. The Hilltoppers outgained the Hoosiers 545-484 and held a 216-120 advantage in rushing yards. QB Austin Reed was fantastic with 329 passing yards with two TDs and a rushing score.
"It was just two great football teams playing back-and-forth," said WKU head coach Tyson Helton on WKUsports.com. When you lose a close one like this, you're always going to look back at three or four plays you wish you could have back. We'll try to get better from it today."
Defensively, it was a struggle as the Hoosiers passed for 364 yards on 33 completions and two TDs. That has to be a concern in the early going for Helton as the Hilltoppers rank 87th in total defense (390.7ypg), 101st in passing yards allowed (262yp) and 60th in rushing yards allowed (128.7ypg). That's after beating Austin Peay 38-27 and Hawaii 49-17 in the first two games. One player, who has really stepped up is sophomore OLB JaQues Evans, who has 3.5 sacks and 22 tackles in three games.
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Full-Game Side Bet
That is a huge line and while I certainly have my concerns about the FIU quarterback situation, Western Kentucky's defense is a concern as well. The fact that the Panthers have a bye this week also helps at least play more competitively in this situation. Let's face it, they aren't going to win and they haven't beaten an FBS team in a long time (since 2019). They also haven't covered since October 23, 2021. Do you know who they last covered against? Western Kentucky. Take the points.
Full-Game Total Pick
I see this going a little like the Hawaii game for Western Kentucky (49-17) with the Panthers scoring a few more points. A lot depends on Holmberg's situation so take this play lighter. However, he did return to practice last week, so there appears to be a chance that the Duke transfer will play after not traveling two weeks ago. FIU allowed 37 points to FCS Bryant in overtime so let's face it, they have some defensive issues.