The Sun Belt gets some love on Friday night NCAA football betting action this week, as the FIU Golden Panthers take on the Louisville Cardinals at Papa John’s Stadium.
You probably don’t think of it this way, but this is a big, big game for the Golden Panthers against a legitimate AQ opponent who was in a bowl game last year. They need to prove that they belong just in case the conference realignment that is happening across the country leaves big conferences looking for more teams. QB Wesley Carroll really can be looked at as the man that helped change this program’s fate. He stepped in and immediately became the best quarterback that FIU has seen in its short history, and he is going to try to bring this squad to another Sun Belt title this season. Things got off to a good start against the North Texas Mean Green, a rare opening weekend conference game. Carroll threw for 193 yards on a very efficient 16-of-22 passing with a TD. RBs Darriet Perry and Kendrick Rhodes, both of which have high hopes this year as well, each had a pair of TD runs. More impressively was the fact that the Mean Green, a team which almost always features a slew of high scoring games, was held down to just 301 yards and no offensive scores.
Head Coach Charlie Strong has a team that is 1-0 as well, but he clearly isn’t as happy right now as FIU Head Coach Mario Cristobal. Strong’s squad ended up really playing below its capability against the Murray State Racers in the opener last week in spite of the fact that the team raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first half. The second half was slow and sluggish, and the end result nearly put the FCS club right back in the game. QB Will Stein got off to a strong start, throwing a pair of TDs, but he couldn’t get the offense going in the second half at all. He did throw for 226 yards and those two scores without tossing a pick, but better was expected even though it was his first start. Though this is clearly a bigger game for the Panthers than it is for the Ville, it is clear that losing to a Sun Belt team will damage the Big East reps in a huge way, especially for a team that is trying to make it back to another bowl game this year and might struggle to do so.
Florida International Golden Panthers @ Louisville Cardinals Pick: FIU might actually be the better of the two teams in this game. We believe in this team as the best in the Sun Belt, and as a team that could be good enough to win a few games in a conference like the Big East. Louisville really has its work cut out for it after scheduling this one. Cristobal and crew will steal a big one in primetime on national television on Friday.
Free NCAA football Pick: Florida International Golden Panthers +3.5 @ Bookmaker Sportsbook
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.