Big Al's Daily Angle: NCAA Football Preview

by Big Al Staff

Three games in college football headline the Friday sports card.

Florida Atlantic travels to play Miami to play Florida International at 7 PM ET. The Owls have won two straight games to raise their record to 3-1 with their 10-6 victory over Western Kentucky as a 6.5-point favorite. Redshirt Nick Tronti completed just 7 of 16 passes for 109 yards in the defensive battle. The former Indiana transfer became the starting quarterback in August when a two-year starter, Chris Robison, was dismissed from the team.

First-year head coach Willie Taggart inherited nine starters from Lane Kiffin’s group last season that finished 11-3 after their 52-28 victory over SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl. Taggart did not have the benefit of any spring practices given COVID after being terminated from his job at Florida State last year. The lone loss for Florida Atlantic was a 20-9 setback at Marshall three weeks ago. This contest begins a stretch of three-straight road games for the Owls.

FIU returns to action after they last played on October 23rd, where they were upset at home by Jacksonville State by a 19-10 score as a 10-point favorite. The Panthers have had five games canceled due to COVID this fall. Redshirt freshman quarterback Stone Norton completed only 5 of 14 passes for 66 yards in the loss three weeks ago. FIU had the ball for only 17:44 minutes of that game.

The Panthers have ten starters back from the team that finished 6-7 last year. They ended the year with a 34-26 loss to Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl in the third season under head coach Butch Davis. The former Miami Hurricanes’ head coach did not have the benefit of spring practices with this team because of COVID. Florida Atlantic is a 9-point road favorite with the total set at 41 (all odds from BetOnline). The CBS Sports Network has the broadcast at 7 PM ET.

Minnesota host Iowa on a Friday night in a rivalry that goes back to 1891. Since 1935, these two teams have played for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. With both teams beginning their Big Ten seasons with 0-2 records before winning last week, this is a critical game for both of these programs. 

Iowa is just a few plays away from being 3-0 this season. They opened up with a 24-20 loss at Purdue before losing narrowly at home last week to Northwestern by a 21-20 score. The Hawkeyes earned their first win of the season last week with a 49-7 victory at home over Michigan State. 

Head coach Kirk Ferentz returned 12 starters in his twenty-second year with the program from the group that finished 10-3 last season after their 49-24 win over USC in the Holiday Bowl. Despite the disappointing start, Iowa still has designs on winning the Big Ten West to earn a shot at the Big Ten championship game. 

Minnesota returned 13 starters from the team that finished 11-2 with a 31-24 victory over Auburn in the Outback Bowl. Expectations were very high for head coach P.J. Fleck in his fourth year with the program. The Golden Gophers opened their season with a disappointing 25-point loss at home to Michigan. Minnesota then traveled to Maryland the next week, where they lost a nail biter by a 45-44 score. 

The Golden Gophers bounced back last week with a 41-14 victory at Illinois as a 7.5-point favorite. Junior quarterback Tanner Morgan was reliable under center by completing 17 of 27 passes for 216 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Morgan completed 66% of his passes last year for 3253 yards with 30 touchdowns while averaging 10.2 yards-per-attempt. Minnesota was led by junior running back Mo Ibrahim, who ran the ball 30 times for 224 yards and four touchdowns. Ibrahim has 571 rushing yards this season on 97 carries. His 190.3 rushing yards-per-game average leads the nation. 

The winner of this game remains alive to win the Big Ten West, while the loser will have to pick up the pieces to become bowl eligible to salvage their season. Iowa is a 3-point road favorite with a total of 58. FS1 has the broadcast starting at 7 PM ET.

Cincinnati hosts East Carolina at 7:30 PM ET. The Bearcats won their first six games of the season after their 38-10 victory against Houston as a 10.5-point favorite last Saturday. Junior quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 17 of 27 passes for 162 yards with a touchdown and an interception to lead his team to victory. He also added 103 rushing yards with another three touchdowns from his 12 rushes. 

Fourth-year head coach Luke Fickell has 15 starters back from the team that finished 11-3 last season with a 38-6 victory over Boston College in the Birmingham Bowl. Cincinnati ranks seventh in the AP poll this week with aspirations of making the college football playoffs. 

The Bearcats are 27-point favorites with an over/under of 56. ESPN2 broadcasts the game at 7:30 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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