FIU vs. Toledo, Bahamas Bowl: Prediction, pick, odds, line, TV, live stream, watch online

FIU and Toledo will meet in lovely Nassau, Bahamas, on Friday afternoon on the postseason vacation destination that is the envy of every other bowl site on the docket. The Panthers surprised Conference USA in 2018, posting an 8-4 overall record, a 6-2 mark in conference and won six of their last eight games. The Rockets were picked to finish just behind Northern Illinois in the MAC West before the season started, and finished in a three-way tie for that spot with Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan. Let's break down the matchup and make a pick for this Friday afternoon special.

Viewing information

Event: Bahamas Bowl
Date: Friday, Dec. 21 | Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
Location: Thomas Robinson Stadium -- Nassau, Bahamas
TV:
ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN

Storylines

FIU: Offense was the fuel to the Panthers' resurgence in 2018 -- specifically explosive plays. They finished with 36 offensive plays of 30 or more yards, the top mark in Conference USA and No. 16 nationally. Junior quarterback James Morgan was sensational throwing for 2,727 yards and 26 touchdowns on the season. But it was announced Thursday that Morgan will not play, and fellow junior Christian Alexander will take his place. Alexander is just 19-of-29 passing for 218 yards on the season. What could help him is the fact that six different Panthers had 20 or more receptions, and nine players caught at least one touchdown pass in 2018. That experience could come in handy for Alexander making the surprise start for the Panthers. The defense has been consistent throughout the season, is giving up 386.2 yards per game and 24.7 points per game. 

Toledo: The Rockets offense is led by a punishing, multi-dimensional rushing attack that allows coach Jason Candle to keep his backs fresh for a full four quarters. Three running backs -- Bryant Koback, Art Thompkins and Shakif Seymour -- topped the 90-carry mark on the season, which helped stabilize the offense as Candle played musical quarterbacks. The defense, though, is a liability. The Rockets gave up 37 plays of 30 or more yards this season -- the second-worst mark in the MAC -- and a whopping 30.2 points per game.

Game prediction, picks

Prior to the news of Morgan's status, I had FIU outscoring Toledo in an epic shootout in the tropics. But Alexander's inexperience makes it hard to trust the Panthers offense to go score-for-score if the game does evolve into a shootout -- which is something that I expect. The Rockets rushing attack will serve as the closer in this one and lean on a worn out Panthers defense in the second half. Pick: Toledo (-6.5)

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College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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