By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
On Thursday night, the Temple Owls face the Florida International Panthers in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. The game will kick off at 8 pm on ESPN from the Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Owls come into this game with a 6-6 record. The Golden Panthers have an 8-4 record.
“The kids just did a great job this year,” FIU’s Butch Davis, who is in his first-year with the team, said. “We have 19 seniors, who just did an unbelievable job — the leadership, the way in which they played. I think it’s a football team that got better every single week.
“We started off with a tough game the first game of the season (a 61-17 loss at UCF) and they never let anything damage their courage and the consistency and the way in which they worked and approached every game.”
According to Covers.com Consensus Analysis, the Golden Panthers have a 60% chance to win this game, according to their public poll. In their expert poll; however, they have a 72% chance to win this game.
This is the first meeting between the two teams.
While this is the first meeting between the two teams, they do have a tie between one another. Geoff Collins, who is in his first-year as the Owls head coach, was previously the Golden Panthers defensive coordinator in 2010.
Also, Davis, who used to be the Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes head coach, was previously 6-0 against the Owls during his time with Miami. This current team is different than the teams he used to face.
“Their running backs are really, really good,” Davis said. “Defensively, the number of pressures and blitzes and tackles for loss and sacks, I mean they are really, really good at giving you negatives and bad plays. And they’re one of the best teams that we have played as far as punt return and kickoff return.
“They’ve actually scored touchdowns in both of those aspects. This is not one of those games — like I told the team — that if we just control just one phase then we’ll have a chance to win. We’ve got to play good in all three phases.”
Temple is 2-4 all-time in Bowl games. They have lost their past two Bowl games, losing to the Toledo Rockets in 2015 and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons last season.
The Owls have not won a Bowl game since defeating the Wyoming Cowboys, 37-15 in the New Mexico Bowl on December 17, 2011 under former head coach Steve Addazio. Their own Bowl game win came on December 15, 1979 when they defeated the California Bears, 28-17, in the Garden State Bowl.
While this is the first-time that the Owls are playing in the Gasparilla Bowl, they are 0-1 in Bowl games in the State of Florida. They lost 32-17 to the Rockets on December 22nd, 2015 under Matt Rhule in the Boca Raton Bowl.
The Golden Panthers will be playing in their third Bowl game on Thursday night. They have a 1-1 record so far in Bowl games. Yet, this is their first bowl game since December 20th, 2011.
Florida International defeated the Rockets 34-32 on December 26th, 2010 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. They then lost 20-10 to the Marshall Thundering Herd on December 20th, 2011 in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl.
The Owls are coming into this game on a one-game win streak, as they defeated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane 43-22 to become Bowl eligible. They won three of their last four games after beginning the season with a 3-5 record.
“The big thing is we wanted to get that last win for the seniors and make sure they’ll be bowl eligible and to be the all-time winningest class in school history,” Collins said.
Like the Owls, the Golden Panthers have a win streak going into the bowl, as they won their last two games. They defeated the Massachusetts Minutemen and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
Florida International has lot lost a game since losing 52-24 to the Florida Atlantic Owls on November 18th, 2017.
Temple is averaging 24.8 points per game. Florida International is averaging 27.5 points per game.
Logan Marchi, Owls quarterback, has gone 136 of 245 for 1,658 passing yards. He has nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.
David Hood leads the running backs with 116 carries with 562 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Adonis Jennings leads the receiving corps with 39 receptions for 691 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
Alex McGough, Golden Panthers quarterback, has gone 231 of 354 for 2,791 passing yards. He has 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. With 209 passing yards in this game, he could become the first 3,000-yard passer in school history.
“Obviously, they’re very talented,” Collins said of the Panthers. “They’re very well-coached. Whenever you play a team from South Florida they obviously have speed. They’re very competitive. They have a dynamic offense and really good players on defense.”
Alex Gardner leads the running backs with a 171 carries for 765 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Thomas Owens leads the receiving corps with 59 receptions for 887 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
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