Tonight's college football bowl rollercoaster takes us to the exotic locale of. . .Detroit, Michigan. Seriously, the NCAA rewards two college football teams with a trip to Detroit. That has to be a bit of a disappointment.â†µ
But it's a bowl game in any case, and it will be held tonight between the Toledo Rockets (8-4, 7-1 in the Mid-American Conference) taking on the Florida International Golden Panthers (6-6, 6-2 in the Sun Belt Conference). This is the first time in the last five years that the Rockets have gone bowling, and the bowl game appearance in school history for the Golden Panthers, so congratulations to them on that accomplishment.
Florida International is led on offense by junior wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who has amassed 1,879 all-purpose yards, and has found the end zone nine times via receptions and returns. He was the Golden Panthers' leading receiver with 56 grabs for 816 yards. The man he's catching passes from is junior Wesley Carroll, who has completed nearly 62 percent of his passes on the season, but has a fairly unimpressive TD-to-INT ratio of 15/13. The entire FIU offense will have their work cut out for them against a Toledo defense that finished tied for the FBS lead in turnovers forced with 33. They'll have to look out for Malcolm Riley, who led the Rockets in sacks with 5.5, and T.J. Patinikun, whose 12 tackles for loss led the Rockets defense.â†µ
Toledo also has their own special multi-faceted threat in sophomore Eric Page. Not only did Page lead the Rockets with 94 receptions for 1,081 yards and eight scores, but he was also named as a first-team All-American kick returner, having averaged 31.8 yards per return. He is the first Toledo player to be named a first-team All-American since 1975. The Rockets will also be welcoming back starting quarterback Austin Dantin, who suffered a separated shoulder late in the season. His backup, Terrance Owens, is more athletic than Dantin, but doesn't see the field quite as well as Dantin, so his return should provide a decent boost for Toledo.â†µ
This should be a fairly decent game, and I'd like to pick Florida International to get their first ever bowl victory, but the return of Dantin and the advantage of being significantly closer to home tips the scales towards the Rockets.â†µ
SB Nation Minnesota prediction: Toledo 34, Florida International 30
SB Nation Minnesota record thus far: 4-3