The 5th Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl will be between the Florida International Panthers (8-4) and the Toledo Rockets (7-5). In fact, this game will feature the first meeting between the two schools. However, neither team has played in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl. The FIU Panthers come into this season having one of their program’s best season. Another thing both FIU and Toledo have in common is that both of them played and lost against the Miami Hurricanes this season. FIU and Toledo will be led by their high scoring offenses.
The Florida International Panthers come into this game led by their second-year head coach Butch Davis. Their offense will also be led by their star quarterback James Morgan. The redshirt junior had a great season for the Panthers. The former Bowling Green quarterback finished the season completing 213 out of 326 passes for 2,727 passing yards, 26 touchdown passes, and seven interceptions. The leading rusher for FIU is their starting running back Napoleon Maxwell. The redshirt-junior has 121 carries for 673 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. FIU also two top receivers in the Conference USA with C.J. Worton and Maurice Alexander. Worton was a former Florida Gator but is now FIU’s leading receiver. He has 36 catches for 620 yards and six touchdowns. In addition, Alexander has 35 receptions with 444 yards and five touchdowns.
On defense, the Panthers will be led by their strong linebacking corps. Texas graduate transfer Edwin Freeman has 89 tackles on the season. Freeman also has seven tackles for loss, one sack, and two interceptions. The leading tackler for FIU is Monsignor Pace graduate Sage Lewis. The redshirt-junior has 126 tackles on the season with 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Dorian Hall and Richard Dames are the interception leaders for FIU with three picks on the season. JUCO transfer Teair Tart leads the Panthers with four sacks on the season.
Important to realize, the Toledo Rockets are excited to play in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl against the Panthers. The Rockets will be led by their elite offense that averaged 41.1 points per game. Sophomore quarterback Eli Peters will be the starting quarterback for the Toledo Rockets. Peters has completed 124 out of 227 passes for 1,573 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. The Toledo rushing attack is one of the best in the country with over 220 rushing yards per game. The leading rusher for Toledo is Bryant Koback. The redshirt freshman running back has 139 carries for 875 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Junior wide receiver, Diontae Johnson, is the leading receiver for Toledo. He has 43 receptions for 663 yards and seven touchdowns.
Comparatively, the Toledo defense will have their hands full as they’ve struggled mightily this season. The leading tackler for the Rockets is Richard Olekanma. The senior linebacker has 78 tackles on the season with 8.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and one interception. Senior defensive end Tuzar Skipper is a defensive lineman the Panthers need to gameplan around. The Monroe College transfer is one of the top defensive players at Toledo. Skipper has 52 tackles of the season with 10.5 tackles for loss. Also, he has a team-high 8.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Reggie Howard is another top defensive lineman at Toledo. Now, Howard has 45 tackles with 15 tackles for loss, four sacks, and two forced fumbles.
Five Players to Watch: FIU Panthers
Five Players to Watch: Toledo Rockets
- Morgan throws for over 250 yards and two touchdown passes.
- Skipper leads both teams in rushing.
- Lewis leads both teams in tackles.
- Toledo’s defense forces at least one turnover.
- FIU defeats Toledo 37-35.