WHO: Temple (6-6) vs. FIU (8-4)
WHAT: The 10th Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
WHEN: 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Tropicana Field, Saint Petersburg, FL
THE SKINNY: A year after finishing the regular season with a conference championship, the 2017 season was much different for the Temple Owls. First-year head coach Geoff Collins had some bumpy first tests after taking over the program, but the Owls seemed to find an offensive identity that could work in the final weeks of the season.
Junior quarterback Frank Nutile finished the season on a high note and made the case to keep the starting job in 2018 with 11 touchdowns in the final five games of the season. Nutile’s late surge in the offense provided some stability for the offense and helped to open up the game a bit for the Owls, but the running game remains the key to the Owls offense. Ryquell Armstead and David Hood have split the carries for share of the carries to a balanced effect, and that should continue against the Panthers.
Lost in the attention given to Lane Kiffin turning FAU around is the job done by Butch Davis at FIU. Perhaps even more impressive than the job done by Kiffin this season, Davis returned to the sideline and quickly built an eight-win team with FIU. The offense exploded in the final weeks of the season with 41 points against Western Kentucky and 63 against UMass. If FIU brings that type of firepower into the bowl matchup, Temple could have trouble keeping up the pace.
Davis is no stranger to coaching against Temple, although this is not the same Temple program Davis faced while coaching the Miami Hurricanes in the old Big East. The playing field is much more even now for Temple and Davis.
THE PICK: Temple 31, FIU 27