With a long offseason finally behind us, it’s time for some college football. For FIU and Louisiana Tech, not only is the season getting started in Week 0, but so is their conference schedule, as this will be one of three Conference USA matchups taking place on Saturday. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for this early-season conference clash.
FIU Vs. Louisiana Tech Prediction & Pick
After winning one total game across the 2020 and 2021 seasons, FIU football undoubtedly needed some change. They overhauled the entire coaching staff, bringing in a group headlined by former Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre. While the team still wasn’t a contender at any level, it’s fair to say that there was some improvement; they jumped up to a 4-8 record, and improved both their scoring offense and defense.
The Golden Panthers have all the ability in the World to keep rising, as they retained most of the personnel that has already gotten them this far, as MacIntyre and his staff are intact and ready to go for year two. The team’s retained talent, featuring 11 returning starters between the offense and defense, contributes to an outstanding net TARP of 6. That number is also boosted by a very solid incoming transfer class, which helps to cancel out some major portal losses.
Unlike their opponents, Louisiana Tech have hit a small plateau of sorts, as they had a bowl-eligible 2020 campaign, but have gone 3-9 in each of the last two seasons. Like FIU, they have a coaching staff that is pretty much entirely in its second year, but they’ve shaken things up a bit in terms of on-field personnel. They’ve brought in QB Hank Bachmeier from Boise State, who has dealt with some injuries in recent years but showed some great potential as he threw for over 3000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2021.
As conference foes, these two teams did meet last year. It was a highly entertaining contest, as the two teams were separated by more than a score for only about three minutes. It took two overtimes to settle, but FIU finally came out on top in a high-scoring affair. This was a relatively unique way to win for the Golden Panthers, who frequently leaned on their defense in close games.
Overall, FIU has handled the transfer portal very well, replacing many of their key losses with corresponding incoming transfers, such as Eric Rivers and Christian Pedersen, who came in from Memphis and Louisville, respectively, and will help backfill the losses of several offensive skill players who transferred out. The biggest transfer losses that were not counteracted by bringing in talent are those of the team’s starting offensive tackles, both of whom are gone. Conversely, Louisiana Tech has lost a similar amount of talent to the portal, but hasn’t done as much to recover from those losses.
With some higher-end talent flowing into the FIU defense, but questions about how well they’ll be able to operate on offense, I’m a big fan of the under; 58.5 is a lot of points for offenses of this caliber going up against fairly competent defenses. For the spread, I’m taking FIU, there’s not nearly enough talent separation between these two teams to suggest a double-digit spread, and last year’s game supports that notion.. 11.5 is a weird football number, so I wouldn’t be opposed to taking an alternate line at 10.5 for a better payout and essentially the same risk.
FIU Vs. Louisiana Tech Odds
Louisiana Tech is a pretty significant favorite with the spread set at 11.5 points and their moneyline at -440, compared to +340 for FIU. For a total of 58.5, the over and under both have -110 odds.
FIU Vs. Louisiana Tech Key Matchups
Check out which matchups will ultimately decide who covers in FIU vs Louisiana Tech.
FIU Front Seven vs. Louisiana Tech Offensive Line
FIU’s greatest strength last year was their pass rush; their 29th-place spot in PFF’s rankings was by far the highest of any FIU unit. This success was fueled by edge rusher Shaun Peterson Jr., who has since transferred across the state to UCF. That’s a huge loss, but FIU has done well in their pursuit to replace him. Claude Larkins, who plays the same position, came in from NC State, where he wasn’t getting much playing time. He’s a former high school three-star recruit, and still has plenty of potential. Avery Huff, a former four-star recruit and the crown jewel of FIU’s transfer class, is in a similar situation, as he came over from the University of Miami after not getting enough snaps.
Louisiana Tech’s line does return some starters, but it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, there’s guard Bert Hale who received a respectable grade of 69.4 from PFF, and then tackle Dakota White who earned a grade just over 40 while playing nearly 800 snaps. If they’re not able to push back against the new-look FIU front seven, the Bulldogs could be on the wrong end of an opening day upset.
Louisiana Tech Receivers vs. FIU Secondary
Yes, it’s another Louisiana Tech offense vs. FIU defense matchup, but the real key here is truly going to be whether or not the Golden Panthers can win with their defense. Their secondary ranked 84th in PFF’s system a year ago, faring better than most of FIU’s offensive units in those rankings.
Louisiana Tech’s receiving group was ranked 69th by PFF, and most of the key contributors are still around. Top wideout Tre Harris headed off to Ole Miss, but the next two guys up, Smoke Harris and Cyrus Allen, are still around. To help soften the blow of losing Tre, Tech brought in three-star talent and all-name team member Decoldest Crawford. This battle should be an interesting one, and is probably Louisiana Tech’s best route to pulling away in this game.