Florida International (6-6) heads to Montgomery, Alabama to take on Arkansas State (7-5) in the Camellia Bowl. Both teams finished the season in opposite directions. Florida International lost three of their last five, as Arkansas State won four of their last five. Florida International did beat in-city rival Miami in one of their games, so they definitely don’t care as much on how they did down the stretch. As of writing this, the tickets are split 50/50 on the spread as Arkansas State is a 2.5-point favorite, and 70 percent are taking the over at 63.
Date: Saturday, December 21, 2019
Time: 5:30 PM ET
Location: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
Florida International Analysis
Florida International comes in nearly identical to Arkansas State across the board. The Panthers offense is fairly mediocre coming in ranked 83rd in offensive success rate. They average 26.2 points per game (76th), and 5.4 yards per play (76th). This will be a pretty even matchup going up against an Arkansas State defense that ranks 85th in success rate. However, there are a few things the Panthers can take advantage of. Florida International does have a slight edge with their offensive line as they rank 46th in stuff rate compared to Arkansas State’s 108th ranking. Also, look for the Panthers to knock off explosive plays on the ground. Their rushing offense ranks 31st in explosiveness, and Arkansas State is one of the worst teams defending explosive rushing plays at 110th.
Defensively, Florida International matches up well against the Red Wolves offense. The Panthers rank 66th in defensive success rate, and are holding teams to 27.5 points per game (60th). They should be able to slow down the Arkansas State offense across the board. However, the Red Wolves do have a slight edge in the trenches for this game. They rank 67th in line yards compared to the Panthers who rank 112th. Also, Arkansas State does have them on explosive rushing plays. They rank 80th in the country, as Florida International ranks 117th in defending them. Now, the Red Hawks aren’t that great at creating explosiveness on the ground to begin with, so it’s hard to see them take advantage of something the Panthers are extremely bad at. Overall, this is another even matchup that the Panthers should have an edge in.
Arkansas State Analysis
Arkansas State comes into their final game of the season averaging 33 points per game (28th). Ranking top-30 in scoring offense is impressive, but their success rate ranks 75th in the country. A big reason for the high number of points is from their explosive offense. They rank fifth in explosiveness, and 15th in explosive passing plays. However, Florida International has been solid all season limiting explosive plays on defense ranking 41st. Also, the Panthers rank 19th in limiting explosive pass plays. Now, the Red Hawks could find some way to get big plays on the ground because Florida International does rank 117th in limiting big rushing plays. The problem is that Arkansas State ranks 80th in explosive run plays. This isn’t something they’re successful at, so it could be a long day for the Red Hawks offense.
The Red Wolves have had some struggles defensively this season. They are allowed 35.5 points per game (112th), and 5.9 yards per play (90th). Also, their defensive success rate ranks 85th in the country. This shouldn’t be too big of a concern for Arkansas State as Florida International ranks 83rd in offensive success rate. However, the Red Wolves have a huge liability in defending explosive rushing plays. Florida International ranks 31st in explosive rushing offense, and Arkansas State ranks 110th in defending explosive rushing plays. This is going to be something that the Panthers can exploit against this Red Hawks defense. Everywhere else, Arkansas State matches up well against the Panthers, but not being able to defend explosive rushing plays could cost the Red Hawks on defense.
Betting Pick: Florida International +2.5
If there’s a +3 out there still, I recommend trying to find it. All in all, Florida International does have a slight edge over Arkansas State in ability. The Panthers explosive rushing attack is going to be hard to stop for the Red Wolves. Also, Florida International does matchup well against Arkansas State. The smaller bowls are hard to figure out if teams are motivated, but the Panthers should take care of business as the dog.