This Friday the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (2-1) will host the Florida International Panthers (1-2). Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST at Joe Aillet Stadium and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

Oddsmakers opened this at Louisiana Tech -9, but it’s been bet down slightly to the Bulldogs -8.5. The total is currently sitting at 51.5 points.

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Vegas Betting Odds & Game Preview: Florida International vs LA Tech

FIU Panthers

The Panthers got their first win of 2019 with a 30-17 victory at home against New Hampshire. It didn’t come easy, as FIU actually trailed 17-13 halfway thru the 3rd quarter. Considering the Panthers were a mere 13.5-point favorite, that’s not a surprising result.

What is surprising is how Butch Davis’ team has struggled early. With 16 returning starters (8 offense, 8 defense) from a team that won 9 games in 2018, people were expecting a big year. FIU got rolled 42-14 as a mere 3-point dog at Tulane in Week 1 and fell 20-14 at home to WKU as a 8.5-point favorite.

Offensively this team is not producing like you would expect (averaged 34.6 ppg last year). Senior quarterback James Morgan has not looked like the guy that threw for almost 3,000 yards with a 26-7 TD-INT ratio. He’s only completing 48.9% of his attempts and backup Kaylan Wiggins is getting more and more reps.

Louisiana Tech

The Bulldogs went on the road and cashed in an easy win and cover at Bowling Green. LA Tech won 35-7 as a mere 10-point favorite. It wasn’t complete domination, as they only led 21-7 going into the 4th quarter. Bulldogs finished with a 453 to 290 edge in total yards.

The only blemish on the schedule for Louisiana Tech is their Week 1 loss at Texas, where they got rolled 45-14 as a 19-point dog. They also failed to cover in Week 2, beating Grambling 20-14 as a 30-point favorite.

Third year starter J’Mar Smith has impressed through 3 games with 818 yards and 5 scores. He hasn’t just been good against bad teams, as he went 34 of 51 for 331 yards and 2 scores against the Longhorns.

Matchup History

Louisiana Tech has won all 3 meetings in the series, but the two haven’t played since 2016. Bulldogs won that matchup 44-24 as a 18-point road favorite.

Free College Football Pick & Predictions: Louisiana Tech -8.5

My early lean here would be take the Bulldogs as a 8.5-point home favorite, but it’s not one that I’m super confident with. Part of the problem is I was one of those that thought FIU would be better than they are. At the same time, I’m not 100% sold on Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs struggled to beat Grambling at home and Bowling Green is someone they should have beat by a lot more than they did.

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I just don’t know how you trust this FIU offense on the road right now. It’s up in the air if Morgan will even be available to play, as he’s questionable with an ankle injury. With that said, I’m not sure he hadn’t lost the job to Wiggins.

The passing game just isn’t clicking for FIU. They come in having completed just 50.7% of their attempts for 134 yards/game and just 5.6 yards/attempt. Just to for comparisons sake, Louisiana Tech is completing 68.5% for 295 yards/game and 8.0 yards/attempt.

The defense is also not playing great. Panthers are giving up 5.3 yards/carry and nearly 200 yards/game on the ground. They are giving up 7.3 yards/completion and I don’t think they have played a quarterback as strong in the passing game as they will this week in Smith.

Bulldogs have feasted on struggling offenses like FIU. They are 26-7 ATS in their last 33 games vs a team that is averaging 310 or fewer yards/game. They are a perfect 6-0 ATS under head coach Skip Holtz in this spot, winning by an average margin of 38.3 to 16.7. Give me Louisiana Tech -8.5!