Previewing Florida International and Temple's Thursday matchup in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. 

By Scooby Axson
December 21, 2017

All month long in the Daily Bowl Digest, we’ll be setting the table for each day of bowl action, with game-by-game previews and a quick look back at the previous day’s action.

What happened last night: Louisiana Tech clinched its fourth-straight bowl victory, topping SMU 51-10 in the Frisco Bowl. Sophomore quarterback J'Mar Smith completed 15-of-23 passes for 216 yards and 3 touchdowns, two of those scores went to Teddy Veal, who tallied 118 yards receiving. 

On Wednesday night, FIU and Temple meet at Tropicana Field in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. Here’s what you need to know:

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, 8 p.m. ET ESPN

Why you should watch: FIU’s football program has been around for less than two decades and has never won nine games in any season. Under first year coach Butch Davis, the Panthers gave up more points than they scored and lost to Old Dominion at home, but they still have a chance to get to that nine-win mark at Tropicana Field on Thursday night. Davis’s progress in Miami was overshadowed by Lane Kiffin’s dramatic turnaround at Florida Atlantic, and that has carried into bowl season, where even the Owls’ Boca Raton Bowl sponsor outshined the Gasparilla Bowl’s in the volume of jokes made at its expense.

In the first year without Matt Rhule, who jumped for the open Baylor job, Temple clawed its way to six wins thanks to a home upset of Navy that kicked off a run of three victories in the Owls’ final four games. They haven’t won a bowl since Steve Addazio was in charge in 2011. No coach has ever led the Owls to more than one bowl game—is this the high point for Geoff Collins’s tenure, or the start of something bigger?

Most interesting player on the field: Alex McGough, quarterback, FIU

McGough threw for 2,791 yards and 17 touchdowns this season and also had five rushing scores. While FIU’s running attack is by committee, look for McGough, who has good size and a decent arm, to be efficient. If he turns it over, it’s lights out for the Golden Panthers.

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