For the first time in the history of the program, the Florida International Golden Panthers are going bowling! They won the Sun Belt this year for the first time, and Head Coach Mario Cristobal deserves all the credit in the world for taking a team that was arguably the worst in this conference several times over the past few years and turning it into champions.
Current College Football betting odds are leaning towards Toledo as a -1.5 favorite over the Florida International Golden Panthers. Even with some uncertainty at the quarterback position, Toledo should live up to these odds and take home the trophy.
Watch SBR.tv's Little Ceaser's Bowl Betting Preview
The Toledo Rockets were probably the very last team into a bowl game this year, as it slipped into the show at 8-4 in spite of the fact that the Temple Owls had the exact same record and were left out of the 35 winter games.
These two will engage in college football betting action in Detroit, MI the day after Christmas to decide who is going to be the winner of the 2010 Little Caesars Bowl.
Winning Culture the Key at FIU
The Golden Panthers were so used to getting their brains beat in every single season that something drastic really had to change. No one really thought that an 0-4 start to the year was anything worthwhile, but hindsight 20/20, those close losses to teams like the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Texas A&M Aggies really did help this team turn the corner.
It was also incredibly important to get a competent quarterback in the fold as well. This was a position which FIU struggled to recruit well at, even in the hotbed of talent in the Sunshine State. However, the transfer of former Mississippi State QB Wesley Carroll was incredible.
The former St. Thomas Aquinas star returned home after spending two years in Starkville, and though his numbers weren't spectacular, he really brought a different mentality to this team. Carroll threw for 2,483 yards with 15 scores against 13 picks, but he guided an offense that averaged over 400 YPG for the first time in team history.
Without Dantin, Owens is in Charge of the Rockets
It's really a shame that sophomore QB Austin Dantin isn't going to play in the Little Caesars Bowl with a shoulder injury, but the truth of the matter is that QB Terrance Owens played better ball down the stretch with Dantin out of the lineup and is very deserving of the starting nod here in Motown.
Owens threw for 1,112 yards and 12 TDs versus just two INTs this year, most of which came in the finale four games of the season when Dantin was down. The team averaged 36.8 PPG in these final four games of the year, a marked improvement on the 27.6 PPG the team averaged for the season.
Wide Receiver Eric Page really shined down the stretch as well and joined the elite status of 1,000 yard receivers as well. In his final five games of the year, Page caught 40 passes for 501 yards with six scores.
With Page being just a sophomore and Owens just a freshman, the future is bright in Toledo, and that might start against the Golden Panthers on December 26.
Stacking Up the Little Caesars Bowl Odds
This is Toledo's first bowl game since 2005, when it beat the UTEP Miners 45-13. FIU has never appeared in a bowl game in team history.
The Golden Panthers are just 3-7 ATS in their last ten games as underdogs, but the Rockets are only 10-21 ATS in their last 31 following an SU win.
The Final Verdict
Though this was a great year for FIU, Toledo is our bet in this game. The Rockets played incredible ball down the stretch with Owens calling the shots, and though the Golden Panthers were stingy and were probably good enough to go bowling even without the Sun Belt crown, they aren't going to survive in this game.
We recommend laying the two points on the Little Caesars Bowl spread. You can find this and a 'total' of 56 posted right now at 5Dimes.com.