The regular season and championship Saturday have concluded in college football, and now, the bowl schedule has been set. And, we’re obviously keenly interested in the Florida schools that are involved in the upcoming games, including the two “New Year’s 6” contests.
Here are the matchups again with the initial odds from Las Vegas, courtesy of Vegasinsider.com
In the Gasparilla Bowl Thursday December 20th, USF is a surprising 2 1/2 point underdog to the Marshall Thundering Herd. Marshall, out of Conference USA, did pull off an upset of Florida International on the final day of the regular season. And, you are probably aware that the Bulls lost their last five games in a row doing them no favors with the oddsmakers. Still, it’s interesting that in a game that is essentially a home one for USF, they are not at least favored.
The following day on Friday December 21st Butch Davis’ FIU Panthers will be playing Toledo in the Bahamas and the Rockets have been installed as a six-point favorite in that one. While that might be surprising, Toledo did win four of their last five games and scored at least 45 points in all four wins.
On Thursday December 27th. the Miami Hurricanes get a rematch with the Wisconsin Badgers out of the Big Ten in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Wisconsin handled Miami in the Orange Bowl a year ago, and the Canes obviously have payback on their mind. Miami played well in their last two wins of the regular season at Virginia Tech and against Pitt. So the Hurricanes being installed as a four-point favorite looks about right
One line that is surprising is the Peach Bowl for Saturday December 29th. That’s when the Gators take on the Michigan Wolverines out of the Big Ten. And, the oddsmakers already have great belief in Jim Harbaugh and his team, installing them as a seven-point favorite. Florida won their final three games of the regular season to finish with a 9-3 record, while Michigan was wiped out by Ohio State in their rivalry game two weeks ago.
Still Vegas believes much more in Harbaugh and the Big Ten, at least initially, in this one.
And finally, UCF is playing New Year’s afternoon in the “New Year 6” Fiesta Bowl against LSU, and they still aren’t getting very much respect. That’s because the oddsmakers have the Tigers favored by 7 1/2 over the unbeaten Knights. UCF however, is going to be undaunted coming off of their blowout win over Memphis in the American Conference Championship Game 58 to 41.
LSU meantime has dropped three games, including their 7 overtime 74 – 72 lost to Texas A&M two weeks ago. The SEC traditionally has the deepest and most talented league in college football, and that has to be why Vegas is disrespecting UCF once again.
FAU-FIU “Shula Bowl” part of our Saturday primer
As week 11 rolls on today, we have two teams looking to bounce back from losses. One team looking to continue a winning streak, and a rivalry down south. With UCF already losing at Tulsa Friday night, as well as USF losing Thursday night at home to Temple, things are off to a rough start in the state.
Florida State is set to play its first game post Willie Taggart. Odell Haggins will coach as the interim for the second time in 3 years. As far as the actual game goes, the Noles defense will need to be up to the challenge of stopping the Boston College running backs. A.J. Dillon leads the group that is a top 5 rushing attack averaging 280 yards a game.
FSU will be without star DT Marvin Wilson due to a broken hand, further depleting a group that will be relied heavily upon. David Bailey, the back up running back, is also a big back like Dillon and will receive about 10- 15 carries and could also be a real problem for the Noles. As far as the offense for FSU, we know it begins and ends with Cam Akers. After a slow day last week in a loss to Miami, we learned he has been battling an injury.
The Noles need an effective Cam Akers and, more importantly, a functioning passing attack. Boston College can be beaten through the air allowing almost 300 yards a game. This game has the makings to be a shootout and could be a sneaky good game in the early window.
The Florida Gators are also looking to bounce back this weekend. They lost to rival Georgia last week and all but ended their chance at the SEC East title. Now they will focus on getting back to a New Years’ six-game. They will host a Vanderbilt team that only averages 17 points a game. Expect the Gators who have been saying they will be playing mad to come out fast.
The defense should be swarming and especially on third down where they were gashed last week. On offense, look for them to get the running game going. Last week against Georgia it was nonexistent. The Gators are heavy favorites at home and should be able to win this game with no heroics.
The Miami Hurricanes are looking to go on a three-game winning streak. Jarren Williams has given the offense new life since throwing the game-winning touchdown at Pitt. They will now face a Lousiville team that is better at offense more so than defense. Expect the canes to get DeeJay Dallas involved early to help set up the play-action to guys like Jeff Thomas, K.J. Osborn, and Brevin Jordan.
On defense, the Canes will need to key in on Chatarius Atwell and Javian Hawkins. Both guys are playmakers with the ball in their hands and will have the ball a lot. If the Canes can stop those two, then they should be on their way to another win and an excellent rebound after the Georgia Teach game.
We saved the best for last, with a rivalry game down south between FAU and FIU in the latest edition of “The Shula Bowl.”
Both teams are coming off of wins making the game more exciting. The Owls are also tied for the top spot in the C-USA east, and FIU will want to spoil the Owls season here. For FAU, the offense is going to go through QB Chris Robinson (above). The Owls are a better passing team, and Robinson has been the engine to that.
The FIU defense, though, has been dreadful against the run and good against the pass, meaning someone in the FAU backfield could find themselves in a vital role. For the Panthers, the offense is led by the run and by Anthony Jones. Last week it was Napoleon Maxwell who led the team in rushing, but both will be the catalyst for this team. James Morgan will need to make some throws, however, because the FAU defense has been better against the run than they have against the pass.
Both teams come into the game better at stopping the teams’ strengths meaning this could come down to coaching between Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin.
C-USA fined FAU coach Lane Kiffin Sunday night
FAU Coach Lane Kiffin is known for being brash, and at times outspoken. And as it turns out, his criticism of the officiating in the conference in which his team plays, has cost him in the pocketbook.
This after Sunday night when Conference USA announced they were fining the third-year FAU coach for criticizing the officials with a social media post on Saturday evening.
First, Kiffin was unhappy with the officiating in his team’s Friday Night 36-31 loss at home to Marshall. It was the Owls first conference loss of the year. In the game, they were penalized 9 times for 90 yards.
After the tough loss, Kiffin told the media post game,
“I already made the decision I’m not going to get into officiating,” Kiffin said. “I don’t know if we lose money in this conference. We probably do, and I don’t have a lot anymore. I’m not going to lose any.
I’m about to say what I want to say, but I’m not going to. The assistant AD is back there shaking his head like, ‘Hey, don’t say what you want to say.’ I’m not gonna say anything.”
Kiffin though did add,
“The game might’ve taken five hours because every call took 10 minutes to figure out how to explain it,” Kiffin said. “I can’t get fined for that.”
Then, on Saturday Kiffin told the media that the Conference admitted that there were “inconsistencies” on several calls and non-calls in the game.
Later Saturday, Kiffin put out on Twitter a the meme of game officials with guide dogs, sunglasses and red and white cane poles:
— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) October 20, 2019
That drew this response Sunday afternoon from the Conference and its commissioner Judy McLeod,
“Conference USA has specific rules and standards regarding sportsmanship which have been adopted by our membership,” said Commissioner Judy MacLeod. “We have an obligation to enforce our rules, including the prohibition of public criticism of officiating.”
It is laughable that apparently the extent of their initial punishment is only a $5,000 fine, which is a small fraction of the money that the former Raiders and USC coach makes in Boca Raton.
And further, it’s well known that a coach continuing to complain publicly about officiating is less likely to get favorable judgment calls in the near future. And, that’s more important than a conference reprimand or small fine.
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