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2010 Little Caesars Bowl Odds: FIU vs. Toledo Free Pick

Little Caesars Bowl: FIU Golden Panthers vs Toledo Rockets Preview & Pick

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Little Caesars Bowl: Florida International vs. Toledo

Golden Panthers vs. Rockets
Date: Sunday, December 26, 8:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Broadcast: ESPN
Golden Panthers vs. Rockets betting lines from Bodog.com
Golden Panthers: +1.5
Rockets: -1.5
Total: 56
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Toledo closed out the season with a very impressive run and a surging offense, but Florida International didn’t look too shabby either, shaking off a four-game losing streak to start the year. The teams will match up Sunday in the Little Caesars Bowl.

Toledo (8-4, 7-5 ATS) closed out the season with five wins in its last six games. The Rockets also won and covered back-to-back games to finish out the year.

The Rockets roll with a very balanced offense. the put up some fantastic numbers down the stretch, scoring at least 30 points in six straight games. Adonis Thomas leads a rushing attack that averaged 156 yards per game, though six different players finished with at least 28 carries. The team’s most dynamic playmaker is Eric Page. Page caught 94 passes this season, eight of them for touchdowns. He also three three scores and returned another three for touchdowns. He accounted for five touchdowns in the season-ending win over Central Michigan.

Too bad Page can’t play defense, too. The Rockets were often terrible on “D” this season. They allowed 130 yards per game and 25 touchdowns on the ground this season. The passing defense wasn’t great either, but with 27 sacks on the year, Toledo has proven it can at least put some pressure on the opposing passer.

Florida International (6-6, 6-6 ATS) lost its last regular season game of the year, a 28-27 heart breaker to Middle Tennessee. That snapped a four-game winning streak straight up, not to mention a three-game winning streak against the spread. Either way, FIU played pretty well after losing its first four games.

The Panthers lost starting running back Jeremiah Harden to an injury at midseason, but they didn’t lose a step. A committee took over and FIU averaged 189 rush yards per game over the course of the year. Darriet Perry (154 carries, 707 yards, 14 touchdowns) gets most of the work. He and the rest of the committee will be crucial on Sunday, since quarterback Wes Carroll is prone to mistakes. He completed 61 percent of his passes but also threw 13 interceptions in just 340 attempts this year.

Defensively, FIU made a huge improvement on its run defense from 2009, shaving off 75 yards per game. The Golden Panthers are still giving up nearly 160 per outing, however, which is a little frightening with Toledo’s rock-solid rushing attack on tap. The secondary has some talent but is a little green, leading to big-time mistakes. They often get bailed out by a pass rush that finished with 31 sacks.

Florida International and Toledo have split their two games over the past two seasons. This should be another tight contest as the teams are very similar on paper. Special teams are often the difference maker in games like this and, while FIU has a great return man in T.Y. Hilton, Toledo has a monster-threat with Page. Page is simply too explosive. Whether its catching, running, throwing or returning the football, he’ll find a way to make one or two big plays that make the difference in this game. Go with Toledo.

Gambling Trends:

Florida International is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
Toledo is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Toledo’s last 7 games

Florida International vs. Toledo pick: Rockets -1.5

Ian Van Den Hurk has covered amateur and pro sports for years, including a successful run handicapping anything from football to mixed martial arts.

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About Ian Van Den Hurk

Ian Van Den Hurk has covered amateur and pro sports for years, including a successful run handicapping anything from football to mixed martial arts. Looking for more sports betting tips and expert sports handicapping articles from Ian V? We've got your back...


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