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Jacksonville State Jaguars vs. Florida International Panthers Betting Picks and Predictions

22 October 2020

NCAAF Picks Austyn Varney
Date:Friday, October 23rd
Time:7:30 PM ET
Venue:Riccardo Silva Stadium
Network:ESPN3
Spread:FIU -10
O/U:59.5

The 2-1 Jacksonville State Gamecocks will go on the road Friday night to face off with the 0-1 Florida International Panthers at 7:00 PM ET in Riccardo Silva Stadium. The winless Panthers are 10.5-point favorites and we’re looking at a 59.5 over/under. These are two very unknown teams by sportsbooks and we will be able to get an edge if we put the work in. Let’s dive into how this game will go and who will cover the spread. 

When The Jacksonville State Jaguars Have The Ball

The only loss of the season for Jacksonville State came in week one against Florida State, in a game they led for the entire first half. They followed that up with back to back wins against Mercer and North Alabama. They’ve averaged nearly 30 points per game, but this will be their toughest matchup since week one against FSU. 

The Gamecocks deploy a pass-first attack with senior QB Zerrick Cooper leading the charge. He’s thrown for 615 yards and a touchdown through three games. He doesn’t run for many yards with just 89 on the season, but has rushed for five scores and has shown exceptional instincts near the goal line. With that being said, expect the touchdown passes to go up as Cooper has been more effective than ever through the air. 

When Cooper drops back to pass, he has two excellent targets in tight end Trae Berry (13 rec, 240 yards) and wideout Dave Russell III (11 rec, 121 yards). Neither have caught a touchdown just yet, but that should change very soon and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s this week. Logan McVay compliments the pair and RB Uriah West is a threat out of the backfield as well. 

When Jacksonville State runs the ball, it’s been a split between Zerrick Cooper and halfbacks Hall and Pat Jackson. Jackson has been the most productive of the bunch with 91 yards and a score on 20 carries. West has struggled running the ball, but his ability to catch the ball helps if nothing else. 

When The Florida International Panthers Have The Ball

The Panthers are winless through two games, but they’ve lost to Middle Tennessee State and Liberty by a combined five points. They were a play away from victory in both games, so we have to make sure that we take the overall record with a grain of salt here. They kept it close with two solid teams and are as well-rested as anyone with just two games under their belt. 

They have a unique QB situation as Kalyan Wiggins is listed as the starter, but the coaching staff has already said the only reasons the other guys haven’t played more is because of COVID and a lack of practice time. I still find it hard to believe freshman Stone Norton, who’s completed 67% of his passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns won’t see the field a bunch tonight. Wiggins is more of a runner and he’s averaged five yards per carry on the year. 

The Panthers are a run first and second team, and they change things up with various offensive looks to keep opposing defenses guessing. D’Vonte Price and Shaun Peterson split time and both are averaging over 6.5 yards per carry. Price has found the end zone three times and Peterson twice. They are both 210+ pound backs and Jacksonville State must focus on tackling if they don’t want to get shredded on the ground. 

If Stone Norton gets any meaningful time under center, we’ll get to see a few of these wideouts shine. Tight end Sterling Palmer is a six-foot-six beast that can catch anything and it’d be wise for these QB’s to target him more. While leading the team, he’s caught just five balls for 44 yards through two games. Bryce Singleton leads the team in receiving yards with 58 and a touchdown on just three catches. He’s the teams most talented receiving threat and will have to get more involved in this game. 

Spread Prediction

Florida International has the weapons, but many blame the coaching staff after two close defeats. Expect the Panthers to come out running the ball a ton in this one. If they don’t find it to be very effective, a move to Stone Norton would be surprised. The Jacksonville State secondary is a pretty weak one and Norton has shown the ability to have success against better. Either way, the Panthers defense will have to show up and slow down a Gamecocks offense that’s relatively potent themselves. 

I like the Jacksonville State Gamecocks to keep this game close, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get out to an early lead. I haven’t been impressed with the QB play of Kaylan Wiggins and it should take a few series to work in Norton. On the Gamecocks side, Zerrick Cooper has been solid both through the air and on the ground, so an already struggling FIU defense won’t be able to hone in on just one. 

The Pick: Jacksonville State +10

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

Total Prediction

I do expect the Panthers to scratch and claw their way to their first victory of the season. They’re the better overall team and the running game is tough to stop for four quarters. It’s just going to be closer than 10 points and I’m all over Jacksonville State here. The public seems to be on FIU, which makes me even more confident in the pick. Use this game as a nice bankroll boost before the weekend.

This game should turn into a bit of a shootout as neither defense gives us a reason to believe in them. Both have given up over 30 points per game and the offenses will give them no break. On one side, FIU can attack on the ground with Wiggins in or through the air with Norton in. On the Gamecocks side, Cooper is due for some huge positive regression as he’s been excellent through the air while being held to just one touchdown. Look for both offenses to have a bit of a coming-out party here and for this on to turn into a back-and-forth affair. Give me the over as my favorite bet in this game. 

The Pick: Over 59.5

Final Score Prediction: Florida International 37, Jacksonville State 31

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

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