The Little Ceasers Bowl brings round two of the battle between the Sun Belt and MAC. Round one went to the Sunbelt in the New Orleans Bowl. Round two is highlighted by the emergence of Florida International University. The Golden Panthers won the first conference title in route to qualifying for the first bowl game in school history. The achieved this in only their 9th year as a football team. Meanwhile second year coach Tim Beckman has Toledo back in a bowl game. The Rockets only lost 1 MAC game this season but went 1-3 outside the conference. The one win was against Purdue.

3 Keys from the Scouts

1. FIU’s rushing game. In looking at the team statistics the only area where there should be a good battle is when FIU tries to run the ball. The two headed attack of Darriet Perry and Darian Mallary average 21 carries and 112 yards per game. Toledo only gives up 130 yards total on average.

2. Turnover margin. Toledo is +14 on the year in turnover margin, including 33 takeaways. FIU is +1 on the year and has only turned the ball over 20 times. 13 of those turnovers were interceptions though. If the Golden Panthers cannot run the ball and have to rely more on the pass it could be a long day against the aggressive defense of Toledo.

3. Who can control themselves the best? Each of these teams leads their conference in penalties. Both of these teams would likely have better records if not for their penalty woes.

Bold Prediction: Give Mario Cristobal all the credit in the world for getting FIU bowl eligible. With plenty of talent in the Miami area to go around Cristobal and company should be able to compete for Sunbelt titles for years to come. Unfortunately just getting here is a win for FIU. Toledo has played much better over the course of the year. It’s tough to see them losing even though the story of FIU would be even better if they finished with the first winning season in school history. Toledo 35 FIU 27.

Pro-Prospects

Florida International

Round Full Name Pos Num Yr Comments
7-FAAnthony GaitorCB74SrQuick, physical defensive back who displays a nice feel for coverage.  Underrated to this point
FAKendall BerryWR194JrNice sized wide out with reliable hands.

Toledo

RoundFull NamePosNumYrComments
6thKevin KowalskiC695SrStrong small area blocker who would fit well in a power running offense.
FADanny NobleTE864JrAthletic tight end with nice size coming off a disappointing junior campaign.
FAMike VenDerMeulenT744JrShowed flashes early in his Toledo career yet never took his game to another level.
FAArchie DonaldOLB425SrSolid linebacker with a good head on his shoulders yet a limited athlete with marginal upside.

Game Preview: Brent Foshee

Prospect Preview:  Tony Pauline