Middle Tennessee St Blue Raiders at Florida International Golden Panthers, FIU Stadium, Miami, FL
Saturday, December 4, 2010, 6:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN Gameplan
Opening Line: FIU -7
Current Line: FIU -5
Opening Total: 54
Current Total: 55
Money Line: FIU -200 / MTSU +170
5-6 middle Tennessee travels to Miami to take on 6-5 Florida international. Both of these teams have a lot at stake in this game. Middle Tennessee can become bowl eligible with a win, but Florida International can win the Sun Belt conference title outright if they win. Florida International is 6-1 in conference but they went 0-4 to start the season. The Panthers had a difficult non conference schedule with a home game vs Rutgers, and road games at Maryland, Texas A&M, and Pitt. All of those teams except for Rutgers are going to a bowl game this year. It speaks to the weakness of the Sun Belt conference that the conference champ will be 7-5 at best or even 6-6 if FIU loses this game. MTSU has won 3 of the last 4 meetings straight up vs FIU, and 4 of the last 5 have gone over the total, including the last two. The Raiders have gone 12-2 ATS with 6 days or fewer rest in the last two seasons.
Middle Tennessee St is 5-6 on the season but can become bowl eligible with a win. There is no guarantee they will be selected to go to a bowl at there are already 70 teams eligible for the 70 spots, and it will come down to who has the best fan base and travels the best. The Blue Raiders have been outscored 28-27 on the season. MTSU averages 373 yards a game on offense, including 183 rushing yards a game. They give up 382 yards a game on defense, including 190 rushing yards per game. The big problem for the Raiders on offense is turnovers. They have 32 turnovers on the season, and have a turnover margin of -17. They have forced 29 sacks on the year and allowed 19. The offense is led by quarterback Dwight Dasher. Dasher missed the first four games of the season, but has played every snap since then. Dasher has thrown for 1,144 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. He is also the teams second leading rusher with 112 carries, 396 yards, and 7 touchdowns. The Raiders only throw for 189 yards a game, but the top receivers are Garrett Andrews and Malcolm Beyah. Both have 26 catches, and 2 touchdowns. MTSU only has 8 passing touchdowns on the year. The rushing game is led by Phillip Tanner, who has 135 carries, 779 yards, and 9 touchdowns. D.D. Kyles and Benjamin Cunninghasm also get significant carries and have multiple touchdown runs.
Florida International has already clinched the Sun Belt Conference title as they hold the tie-breaker over second place Troy. Troy is a game behind and FIU beat them 52-35. There is some controversy about which bowl the Panthers will go to. The champion of the Sun Belt is supposed to play in the New Orleans Bowl, but the organizers of that bowl say they don’t want the Panthers, because their fans don’t travel well. They would much rather take MTSU if they were eligible. That would leave FIU going to cold and snowy Detroit to play in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl the day after Christmas. However if the Panthers beat MTSU then the New Orleans Bowl has to take FIU because no other Sun Belt teams would be eligible. Troy is locked into the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Birmingham.
The Panthers are outscoring opponents 29-27 on the season. The Panthers are averaging 401 yards a game, including 185 rushing yards. They give up 363 yards a game, including 161 yards on the ground. FIU has a turnover margin of +2. They have forced 30 sacks on the season and only allowed 15. The Panthers give up more than 75 yards a game in penalties. The offense is led by quarterback Wesley Carroll. Carroll has thrown for 2,342 yards, 14 touchdowns, 13 interceptions. The top receivers are T.Y. Hilton (55 catches, 808 yards, and 4 touchdowns) and Greg Ellingson (33 catches, 529 yards, 4 TD’s). Hilton also has 4 rushing touchdowns. Johnathan Faucher only has 9 catches but 3 of them are for touchdowns. The rushing attack is led by Darriet Perry (138 carries, 654 yards, and 12 touchdowns) and Darrian Mallary (103 carries, 565 yards, 2 touchdowns).
Middle Tennessee must protect the ball better than they have all season or it could be a long day. Both of these teams usually play close high scoring affairs, and I could easily see a shootout. The weather will be perfect with temps in the 60’s and no rain.
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