Little Caesars Bowl Predictions: Florida International vs. Toledo Odds and Picks
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 12/22/2010
On the surface this matchup between a pair of small colleges in mid-major conferences may not seem as attractive, as, say a Hot-N-Ready Little Caesars Pizza. However, a closer look reveals a surprisingly appetizing matchup. The Little Caesar’s Bowl features two programs on the upswing that are proving many people wrong simply by reaching Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan to play on Sunday, Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. ET.
Toledo has not been to a bowl game since 2005. Florida International only started playing Division I-A football in 2005. Toledo has been knocking on the door of bowl games three out of the past four seasons, winning five games three times but just missing the necessary sixth win. The Golden Panthers have been a little further away from a postseason game. They were winless in 2006 and 1-11 in 2007. Over the course of the last four seasons they are 9-39.
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But this season both Toledo (8-4) and Florida International (6-6) broke through and qualified for a bowl game. Toledo did it by winning in the conference. It went 7-1 against Mid-American Conference competition, but the Rockets were trounced, 65-30, by Northern Illinois and denied a shot to play for the conference championship. Outside of the conference the Rockets landed a big 31-20 win at Purdue as 11-point underdogs.
The Little Caesar’s Bowl is designed to pit a MAC team against a Big Ten team, but with not enough Big Ten teams bowl-eligible, the Sun Belt Conference provides an alternative team with FIU. The MAC is 1-5 in the bowl game since 2004. The Sun Belt won its last appearance in the bowl game in 2008. The last three Little Caesar’s Bowl games have been decided by a total of 10 points.
Toledo went through a midseason change at quarterback after starter Austin Dantin was lost to injury. Toledo was just fine without him, winning three of four although the Rockets have become more of a passing team than a spread-running team like they were with Dantin, who was their second-leading rusher but he threw only seven touchdowns compared to eight interceptions. With Terrance Owens under center the Rockets have taken to the air and with better results. Owens has 12 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions.
Watch out for Toledo sophomore Eric Page. He averages 31.8 yards per kick return and has taken four back for touchdowns. He also has 1,081 receiving yards. Page has also attempted four passes and three have gone for touchdowns. He will be the biggest playmaker on the field during the Little Caesar’s Bowl.
T.Y. Hilton is a potential game breaker for Florida International. He has rushed for 278 yards and four touchdowns. Hilton also leads the team in receptions (56) and receiving yards (816) and is a dangerous kick returner.
You would not think that a school in Northern Ohio and a school in Southern Florida, 1,336 miles apart, would have much in common. However, Toledo and Florida International have plenty in common. They played the last two seasons, with each team winning on the road. And Florida International’s offensive coordinator, Scott Satterfield, came to the school after one season as Toledo’s offensive coordinator.
Florida International vs. Toledo Betting Odds
Toledo is a 1.5-point favorite in the Little Caesar’s Bowl against Florida International, according to college football odds. The total is set at 56.
Little Caesars Bowl Predictions and College Football Picks
Both schools played similar schedules and Toledo is a solid eight-win team. Even though the game is indoors, the fact that it is being played in Detroit, just 55 miles away from Toledo, will factor into the outcome.
It is hard to imagine anyone in their right mind escaping South Beach to venture to Detroit for the holidays. So Toledo will be close to home, will avoid major travel and should have plenty of fans on hand.
Toledo seems to have the advantage in terms of intangibles and an advantage with talent, so this game is the Rockets to lose. As only two-point favorites, Toledo is as much of a bargain as a $5 pepperoni pizza.
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