The Charlotte 49ers (2-6, 0-5) are still looking for their first conference victory as they travel to face the Florida International Golden Panthers (4-5, 2-3) in a Conference USA East Division matchup Saturday afternoon. This will be the first matchup between the two schools in their history.
Charlotte lost their sixth straight game since a 2-0 start as they were clubbed 34-10 by Marshall at home Saturday. Florida International lost for the fourth time in six games with a 31-17 defeat to in-state rival Florida Atlantic Saturday. This game kicks off at 12:00 pm ET from FIU Stadium in Miami, Florida and will not be nationally televised. Florida International is currently an 18.5 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 50.5 points.
Charlotte continues to struggle as they make the transition to a full blown FBS program as they couldn’t handle the Thundering Herd. The 49ers were down 14-0 after one quarter and 31-3 at halftime; you could turn the lights out at that point. Charlotte was outgained by better than a 2:1 margin, 630-307, gave up 31 first downs while picking up 22 and committed a pair of turnovers while not forcing any Marshall miscues. The 49ers defense couldn’t come up with stops as Marshall had touchdown drives that covered 97, 97 and 84 yards.
The 49ers are going through growing pains offensively as they are 112th in passing (167.1 yards) and 62nd in rushing (177.4 yards) offense per contest. Charlotte is averaging 16.9 points per game and they are just tied for 100th in scoring defense by allowing 34 points per contest. Three quarterbacks have seen action for the 49ers; they have combined to complete 51 percent of their passes for 1,337 yards while averaging 5.2 yards per pass attempt with four touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Lee McNeill has seen the most reps at quarterback but he’s struggled to complete 78 of 156 passes for 690 yards with no touchdowns and 10 picks. Kalif Phillips is the team’s leading rusher with 165 carries for 853 yards and five scores. Andrew Buie is the second back in the system; he contributes 75 carries for 305 yards plus a touchdown. Austin Duke is the team’s top receiver with 37 receptions for 384 yards and two scores; Trent Bostick (18 catches, 235 yards, TD), T.L. Ford (18 receptions, 180 yards) and Workpeh Kola (12 grabs, 102 yards) are the other targets with double digit receptions on the year. Blake Brewer has booted all 15 extra points and 10 of 17 field goal attempts on the year with a long of 45 yards; he’s missed one between 20 and 29 yards while misfiring twice between 30 and 39 yards.
Florida International had their fair share of struggles against Florida Atlantic as they fell short in their rivalry clash. The Golden Panthers were down 17-0 in the first half and after closing the deficit to 17-10, went flat. Florida International was outgained 397-262, gave up 27 first downs while picking up 20 and lost the time of possession battle 32:24 to 27:36 in the contest. The Golden Panthers also committed the only two turnovers in the game; one of those was a pick six as Jalen Young took an interception back 58 yards for a score.
The Golden Panthers are averaging 264.1 yards (34th in the nation) per game through the air and 108.9 yards (119th in the nation) per contest on the ground this season. Florida International scores 27.9 points a game, which is tied for 80th in scoring offense, and is 48th in scoring defense as they allow 23.6 points per contest; four of their five losses have been by double figures. The Golden Panthers have thrown 311 passes while running the ball 256 times; Alex McGough is 214 of 323 for 2,245 yards with 18 touchdowns and four interceptions on the season while ranking fourth on the team with 85 rushing yards plus two scores. Trey Anderson has completed 5 of 15 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown in his limited workload. Alex Gardner leads the team with 149 carries for 619 yards plus six scores; he’s currently leading the team with 48 grabs for 396 yards plus a score. Anthony Jones (24 carries, 139 yards, 2 TD) and Anthon Samuel (31 carries, 104 yards, TD) are secondary options in the ground game. Thomas Owens is the team’s second leading receiver as he has 44 receptions for 547 yards and seven scores; Jonnu Smith (36 receptions, 397 yards, 4 TD) and Ya’Keem Griner (21 receptions, 225 yards, 2 TD) are solid targets as well. Austin Taylor is 25 of 28 on extra points and 10 of 12 on field goal attempts this season with a long of 47 yards.
Florida International is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 after giving up more than 200 yards on the ground.
The 49ers have struggled of late but no one has seen Florida International bowl teams over on a regular basis. The Golden Panthers have talented players but they can’t seem to put together a solid performance on both sides of the ball in the same game. Florida International has the advantage at a lot of the skill positions but unless they put together a full performance, it’s tough to like their chances giving so many points. If you’re playing straight up, Florida International gets the nod but playing the line, you have to go with Charlotte.