Temple had to really rally at the end of the regular season to get into a bowl game. After winning three of their final four games, the Owls are expected to be victorious in the Gasparilla Bowl at the expense of the Florida International Golden Panthers.
Florida International Bowl History
Don Strock never got the Golden Panthers to a bowl game in his three years on the job at FIU. Mario Cristobal was a bit more successful, bringing FIU to the 2010 Little Caesars Bowl and the 2011 Beef O’Brady’s Bowl. The Golden Panthers split those two games, but they haven’t returned to the postseason since that point.
That’s why Butch Davis isn’t being given enough respect for what he accomplished this year with the Golden Panthers. At 8-4, FIU is already tied for its best record in team history. If it can rack up a second-ever bowl win, 2017 will also represent the team’s first nine-victory campaign.
Temple Bowl History
It’s almost amazing to think that the Owls have only played in six bowl games in their history. Four of those contests have come since 2009.
Temple is playing in a bowl game for a third consecutive season, but it hasn’t won a postseason showcase since the 2011 New Mexico Bowl.
A win in this game will give the Owls their third straight winning campaign and their fourth straight season with a non-losing record.
Why Florida International Will Win the Gasparilla Bowl
Sure, there were times when the Golden Panthers looked overmatched, but they also scored 41 points or more three times this season, including in each of their last two games.
Quarterback Alex McGough hasn’t had the greatest career at Florida International, but he’s saved his best ball for last. He went 20-for-25 against UMass in the regular season finale, throwing for 295 yards and rushing for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Fellow senior Alex Gardner has scored four touchdowns in his last four games, and he too saved his best game for last, running for 108 yards and two scores against the Minutemen.
Why Temple Will Win the Gasparilla Bowl
Temple should feel pretty good about itself going forward. The team was relatively young this year and wasn’t expected to do much with Matt Rhule leaving for Baylor late last offseason.
There were some bumps in the road at the start of the season, but the Owls really got rolling offensively from the point when Frank Nutile took over under center. He only started five games, but Nutile threw for 1,346 yards and 11 touchdowns. Sure, he threw seven picks, too, but four of those came against an opportunistic UCF defense in the penultimate game of the campaign.
Gasparilla Bowl Prediction
There’s a big talent gap between these two teams. The Owls might have won eight games this season, but they were underdogs at home against both Massachusetts and Western Kentucky at the end of the year, a surefire sign that the oddsmakers don’t really have much belief in them.
Temple won three of its final four games, dropping 34 points on Navy, 35 on Cincinnati and 43 on Tulsa. If that’s what the Owls did against those three teams, they should be able to replicate that offensive success in the Gasparilla Bowl against a middling Florida International defense.
Gasparilla Bowl Pick: Temple 38, Florida International 24
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