The Gasparilla Bowl Will Take Place on December 21, 8 p.m. at Tropicana Field In St. Petersburg
Temple head coach Geoff Collins took over the Owls after Matt Rhule’s departure. Collins led the team to a 6-6 record, winning three of his last four after starting the season 3-5.
Florida International head coach Butch Davis, doubled last’s season’s win total, going 8-4 this year leading the Panthers to its’ first bowl appearance since 2011.
Both first-year coaches did phenomenal jobs getting their teams to this point. The winner of the Gasparilla Bowl will springboard their program into the conversation of “the best group of five team” next year.
Look for one or both of these coaches to have their name in the coaching carousel next season for available power-five jobs.
What kind of attendance should the Gasparilla Bowl expect? Tropicana Field has had its issues, and the baseball stadium seats only 28,453 for football games.
During its time as the St. Petersburg Bowl (2015-2016), the attendance averaged 15,184 with no teams from the state of Florida. The bowl enjoyed a record attendance in 2014 with 26,675 when UCF played.
In 2011 when FIU played in this bowl, the attendance was 20,072. It goes without saying that this bowl fares better when a team from Florida is featured. Can the FIU fans fill the stadium due to the excitement and new outlook?
FIU’s record is 8-4, Temple record is 6-6; however, Temple is seven-point favorite according to Bovada.lv. Which is extremely telling as both teams are non-power five schools and have first-year head coaches; Davis has much more experience than Geoff.
Vegas values the strength of Temple’s conference (American Athletic), to go with the juniors and seniors leading their defense.
Temple has the edge at wide receiver, while FIU has the slight edge at running back. Temple has the clear advantage on defense in all three areas, but Florida International will play just 3.5 hours from home and will have the crowd to help with crucial moments.
From St. Pete to the NFL
Since the inaugural bowl in 2008, this bowl game has produced 47 total draft picks, featuring a few prominent NFL players such as Blake Bortles, Jacoby Brissett, T.Y. Hilton, Ronald Leary, Devin McCourty, Latavius Murray, and Mohomed Sanu.
Who will the next player to represent the Gasparilla Bowl in the NFL? The best bet, FIU defensive end Fermin Silva, who has seven sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss this season.
Silva will be coming after Temple quarterback Frank Nutile. The junior quarterback didn’t get a true opportunity to start until late October, after cementing his role with the offense he led the Owls to bowl eligibility.