The FIU Golden Panthers travel to New Orleans for a meeting against the Tulane Green Wave for a Week 1 tilt to get the season started Thursday night. FIU and Tulane are both looking for more in 2019. Last season was a growing phase for both clubs, as FIU went 9-4, including a 35-32 win in the Bahamas Bowl over the Toledo Rockets. Butch Davis immediately made an impact with FIU, as he guided them to an 8-5 record in his first season in 2017, and another good season might begin to garner looks from big schools.
Davis was fired in 2011 by North Carolina and he stayed away from the college game until signing with FIU last year. He is most well-known for leading the Miami Hurricanes in 2000 to a 11-1 record and a win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
That team could have very well won it all if the playoff was instituted then. I do not think this is going to be a case like at FAU with Lane Kiffin. Kiffin is happy there and doesn’t want to go under the microscope of a bigger program. Expect Davis to jump for a more lucrative contract if the chance arises.
Tulane had success last season as well. They won their first bowl since 2002 with a 41-39 win over Louisiana in the Cure Bowl. The Green Wave finished on a high note the last two weeks, with wins over Navy and Louisiana to close out the season. They are nowhere ready to take on elite programs, but they can cause a lot of issues against teams who aren’t overly athletic.
Their defensive line is going to be able to cause havoc and likely get off to a fast start at Yulman Stadium against FIU. Both teams return capable quarterbacks. The Golden Panthers will likely move the ball through the air at times, but expect a struggle on the ground. Head below for our free FIU vs. Tulane pick in Week 1 of the college football season.
FIU Golden Panthers vs. Tulane Green Wave NCAAF Week 1 Betting Odds:
Betting odds provided by bovada.lv
FIU vs. Tulane Pick:
LSU transfer, Justin McMillan, will be back at the controls for the second straight year for the Green Wave. With the transfer of Joe Burrow from Ohio State to LSU, McMillan was unlikely to win a quarterback battle with the Tigers. It isn’t like he was a bad quarterback to begin with, but Burrow was giving LSU their best to chance. McMillan had already graduated from LSU as well. He was part of the 2015 recruiting class, so he had experience around an SEC program before playing at Tulane.
McMillan was proficient in his first season as a full-time starting QB. He threw for 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, while rushing for 238 yards and an additional 5 touchdowns with his legs. With a full season under his belt, expect McMillan to have better control of the offense this season instead of leaning on the running game. That said, Tulane can run the ball effectively. They finished 23rd in the nation with 218.2 rushing yards per game. McMillan just had to manage games effectively, but for Tulane to take another leap, they will need more out of him.
Probably the biggest knack against FIU in this contest is their inability to stop the run. FIU allowed ten 100-yard rushing games and finished 99th with 198.4 rushing yards per game. With Sage Lewis returning at linebacker, they should be better in that regard, though. Not good, but better. Look for Tulane to still be able to gain yardage on the ground at home here. The Golden Panthers employ a strong secondary, so they are likely going to keep it on the ground throughout Thursday night.
Willie Fritz is going to get attention from big schools as well if the rebuilding at Tulane continues to go well. From 4-8 to 5-7 to 7-6, so he has this program on the upswing and they get to open the season at home. Fritz is going to have this team ready to play.
The offense and defensive lines of Tulane are likely going to be the difference here. They were effective running the ball and stopping it. Note that the Green Wave allowed less than 4 yards per carry last season, and allowed 152.6 yards per game on the ground.
We already went over how Tulane just finished short of being a top-20 rushing team in 2018 and they are returning talent. FIU are getting a lot of hype going into this year, maybe a little bit too much for my liking. Tulane on the other hand are getting overlooked here. It should be a tight game for three quarters, but expect Tulane to take over late with their running attack to cover the 2.