clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Florida International, Toledo Thank Their Schedules For Making This Possible

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, December 26, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

What it is: No one is certain, but sociologists believe the game is an effort to make the average American think there are reasons to go to Detroit.

The teams: Florida International -- no, really -- and Toledo

How FIU got here: By being in the Sun Belt. The Golden Panthers got off to the worst start possible -- an 0-4 record during which FIU lost by a combined 132-79 margin, including losing by more two touchdowns or more to Maryland and Pittsburgh -- before going 6-2 in the conference. Among the wins was an upset against Troy that gave FIU the championship (technically shared with the Trojans) and helped ensure the first postseason bid in program history. For a program that was until now known as "that team that fought with Miami a few years ago," this is a sign of real progress. On offense, the Golden Panthers are led by the solid play of one Wesley Carroll, whom you might remember as a quarterback at Mississippi State during the Sylvester Croom Era. Carroll is 210-of-340 for 2,483 yards, 15 TDs and 13 INTs. Carroll had most of his best games during the team's 4-1 run at the end of the season.

How Toledo got here: Packing the schedule with very weak competition. It's not that the Rockets planned for all the teams they defeated, save maybe Ohio, to be bad. In fact, Purdue is an actual BCS school. (Kind of.) But Ohio was not just the only bowl-eligible team that Toledo defeated, it was the only bowl-eligible team on the Rockets' slate that didn't defeat them by at least five touchdowns. They return kicks well and stop the run -- and that's about it. They do have Eric Page, the conference's leader in all-purpose yards with 158.8, and Adonis Thomas, who ran for 130 or more yards three times in the last five games after a relatively quiet year.

College football fans care because: What else are you going to watch? The Vikings and the Eagles?

SEC fans care because: FIU could actually be a half-decent cupcake if it wins a bowl or two.

Watch this game if...: You want to help Detroit recover from the near-death of the auto industry.

The result: Toledo 35, FIU 20