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Florida International Panthers vs Massachusetts Minutemen: Preview, TV, Streaming, Start Time, Betting Line, Prediction

A battle of the MAC and Conference USA, this game will go a long way in determining just how good or bad each of these programs can be.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida International Panthers-Massachusetts

Start Time: 3:00 P.M. ET, Saturday, Oct. 3

Location: Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Amherst, Massachusetts

TV: ESPN3

Streaming: WatchESPN

Radio: Florida International Panthers: here. Massachusetts: here.

Records: Florida International Panthers 2-2, Massachusetts 0-3. This is the first meeting between the two programs.

Live Stats: here.

Betting Line: Florida International +3. Over/Under: 56.

Florida International Outlook: The Panthers head into this game struggling to play well on offense. One thing that must change is a starting average field position of the 24.2 yard line, good for #125 nationally. The Panthers are not good at running the ball with a 60.5% success rate, but are in the top 25 for rushing explosiveness. Alex Gardner is the team’s leading rusher with 246 yards, with Alex McGough adding 137 yards from the quarterback position. FIU is only rushing for 136.8 yards per game and 4.1 yards per carry.

The Panthers passing game will not beat a defense for a long gain very often, but does a good job of staying on schedule with a 42.9% success rate. McGough has thrown for over 1,000 yards with 27.6% of his targets to Thomas Owens. Owens has 26 catches, but only a 57.8% catch rate. Gardner is the only pass catcher on the team with 10+ targets and a catch rate of 75% or higher. Overall, FIU is passing for 262 yards per game.

Defensively, the Panthers are very good at limiting big plays and stopping drives inside their own 40 yard line. The defense is giving up a successful rush 44.2% of the time, but has the #21 ranked IsoPPP in the nation at 0.88. A stuff rate of 22.7% certainly helps that cause. The rush defense is giving up 133.8 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry. In similar fashion to the rush defense, FIU will give up yards, but will not give up many big plays. The pass defense is #33 nationally with a 1.29 IsoPPP. The pass defense is giving up only 220 yards per game in the air. Overall, FIU is giving up 353.8 yards of total offense per game.

Players to watch on the FIU defense include: Treyvon Williams (33 tkl, 1.5 tfl), Anthony Wint (31 tkl, 3 tfl, 1 INT), and Richard Leonard (26 tkl, 1.5 tfl).

Massachusetts Outlook: The Minutemen have one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, but also one of the least successful offenses. Rushing the football, Umass is only successful on 32.7% of all carries. When successful, the run game is the fifth most explosive rushing attack in the nation. Marquis Young is a major reason for their explosiveness, with 10.9 yards per carry. Overall, the Minutemen rush for 113.3 yards per game at a 4.1 yards per carry average.

Passing the football has been less successful than the Minutemen thought it would be this fall. Blake Frohnapfel has thrown for 851 yards, but at a 53.5% completion rate. Leading receiver Tajae Sharpe is having a fine season with 377 yards on 30 catches as the primary target (35.3% target rate). He has caught 30 of a possible 49 passes thrown his way. No player designated as a tight end or wide receiver with more than one target has a catch rate higher than 70%. Overall, Umass is passing for 315.0 yards per game.

The Minutemen have played a tough opening schedule, and have not fared that well so far. Versus the rush, offenses are successful on 50.9% of all attempts and averaging 6.2 yards per carry. A stuff rate of 15.4% is one of the worst in the FBS. Umass is giving up 304.7 yards per game on the ground. Offenses are successful on 49.5% of all passing plays versus the Minutemen defense. The defense is giving up 261.0 yards per game in the air with a 7.8 yards per attempt average. Overall, the defense is giving up 565.7 yards per game.

Players to watch on the Minutemen defense include: Jovan Santos-Knox (27 tkl, 3 tfl, 1 sack), Joe Colton (24 tkl, 0.5 tfl), and Khary Bailey-Smith (21 tkl, 1 INT).

Prediction: This game has a Massachusetts win written all over it. The Minutemen are mad at giving the Temple game away and wanting to prove that they are a good football team. Expect FIU to stay in the game early, but run out of gas in the second half and fall to Umass. Massachusetts 36, FIU 21.