FIU vs. Texas Tech Week 3 Odd, Pick, Prediction: Can Red Raiders Cover Big Spread in College Football Matchup?

FIU vs. Texas Tech Week 3 Odd, Pick, Prediction: Can Red Raiders Cover Big Spread in College Football Matchup? article feature image
Credit:

Michael Chang/Getty Images. Pictured: The FIU Panthers.

  • Texas Tech hosts Florida International in Lubbock on Saturday night.
  • The Red Raiders are off to a 2-0 start with an impressive win over Houston, but the Panthers are coming off an overtime loss vs. Texas State.
  • Darin Gardner breaks down the matchup and delivers his pick for bettors below.

FIU vs. Texas Tech Odds

Saturday, Sept. 18
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+
FIU Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+20.5
-110
54
-110o / -110u
+800
Texas Tech Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-20.5
-110
54
-110o / -110u
-1375
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Texas Tech got off to a very impressive start in its season opener against Houston, but a 28-22 win a week later against Stephen F. Austin was puzzling.

Meanwhile, Florida International had big problems in the turnover department a week ago. Despite a 5.6 to 4.6 edge in yards per play, three giveaways cost them the game vs. Texas State.

The Panthers definitely have their fair share of holes, but do they have enough to cover the big spread in Lubbock on Saturday?


Florida International Panthers

The Panthers opened the season with a dominant 48-10 win over Long Island University, but fell back to earth with a six-point, overtime loss vs. Texas State in Week 2.


Panthers Offense

Through two weeks, FIU quarterback Max Bortenschlager — who’s in his sixth year of college football — actually has the fifth-highest PFF passing grade in the country. He exploded in Week 1 against an FCS opponent in Long Island, completing 14-of-17 passes with a ridiculous 15.6 yards per attempt.

His impressive play continued against FIU’s first FBS opponent in Texas State. He recorded a very solid 84.6 passing grade and six big-time throws, with the latter ranking second among all quarterbacks in Week 2.

A 17-point performance against Texas State was disappointing, but FIU was the victim of some very costly fumbles. It fumbled on the goal line while trying to score early in the game, and then, running back D’vonte Price had the ball punched out in the middle of an explosive run on the opening drive of the third quarter.

At the end of the day, the Panthers outgained Texas State significantly on a per-play basis and got another impressive outing from the quarterback position.


Panthers Defense

There’s no question that Florida International’s defense was ahead of its offense in 2020, as FIU was battling a COVID-19 outbreak on the offensive line.

The Panthers were in the middle of the pack in the FBS in terms of success rate and points per drive, and have carried that over into 2021.

Holding Long Island to 4.3 yards per play was nothing to write home about, but last week’s performance against Texas State was a good sign for the Panthers’ defense. FIU only allowed the Bobcats to gain 50 or more yards on three drives and forced a punt on five of Texas State’s six drives in the second half.

Overall, FIU held Texas State to just 4.6 yards per play and only 5.3 yards per pass attempt. The Panthers totaled four sacks on 18 pressures as well, per PFF.

FIU will be outmatched against Texas Tech, but don’t expect this unit to just roll over on Saturday.

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Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech kicked off its new campaign with a 38-21 win over Houston behind RB Tahj Brooks, who recorded 134 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

While they struggled vs. Stephen F. Austin in Week 2, the Red Raiders are still 2-0.


Red Raiders Offense

The Texas Tech offense got a boost this offseason with Tyler Shough transferring from Oregon to take over the starting quarterback job. The Red Raiders needed better quarterback play than they got last season, so Shough was brought in to provide consistency at the position.

The early returns against Houston were very good, with Shough throwing for 9.6 yards per attempt and completing over 70% of his passes.

He had a problem with putting the ball in harm’s way last season, as he posted one of PFF’s highest turnover-worthy play rates. However, he only has one turnover-worthy pass on 46 attempts early on in 2021.

Shough has also quickly found a favorite target in Erik Ezukanma, who has absolutely dominated the Texas Tech target share after two games. He’s received nearly half of Shough’s targets and has totaled fourteen receptions.

Nobody else on the Texas Tech offense has more than four receptions up to this point.

Additionally, Ezukanma’s 355 receiving yards currently make up 80% of Texas Tech’s total yards in the passing game. He’s obviously an incredible talent, but this passing game could run into problems later if it remains so one-dimensional.

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On the ground, Texas Tech returned a productive player in SaRodorick Thompson, but after an injury, Brooks has stolen the show.

After two games, Brooks is sitting on 9.6 yards per carry on 26 attempts, as well as an incredible 7.7 yards after contact per attempt against Houston, per PFF. Thompson should be returning soon, so Texas Tech will have two very solid options in the backfield going forward.

A red flag that has popped up with this offense early on is pass protection. The line had a dreadful 31.9 pass blocking grade against Houston and followed that up with a 63.3 grade against an FCS defense last week.

In total, the Red Raiders have allowed 19 pressures so far, including seven vs. Stephen F. Austin last week. It likely won’t be a huge issue here, but it’s something to watch for.


Red Raiders Defense

Defense has never been the strength of Texas Tech, but it showed out in Week 1 against Houston.

The Red Raiders held the Cougars to just 3.4 yards per play and a very impressive 32% passing success rate. It’s tough to have any big takeaways from just one game versus an FBS opponent, but this was a defensive performance that would’ve been almost unthinkable for the Red Raiders a few years ago.

Texas Tech lost a great cornerback in Zech McPhearson after last season, which left DaMarcus Fields as CB1 going into the new campaign.

Fields impressed in the opener, as PFF had him allowing just 13 yards on four targets against the Cougars. He graded relatively well in 2020, and should be one of the top performers on this defense in 2021.


FIU vs. Texas Tech Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how FIU and Texas Tech match up statistically:

FIU Offense vs. Texas Tech Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
94
63
Line Yards
59
13
Pass Success
111
27
Pass Blocking*
46
26
Big Play
15
29
Havoc
6
17
Finishing Drives
114
128
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Texas Tech Offense vs. FIU Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
35
105
Line Yards
30
91
Pass Success
59
67
Pass Blocking*
110
29
Big Play
47
11
Havoc
95
85
Finishing Drives
55
12
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling
17
47
PFF Coverage
79
17
Middle 8
74
95
SP+ Special Teams
23
14
Plays per Minute
26
61
Rush Rate
56.2% (63)
54.9% (70)

Data via College Football Data (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF & SportSource Analytics.


FIU vs. Texas Tech Betting Pick

It all comes down the number at the end of the day, and I see value on FIU getting 20.5 in a game I project at 17.1. I’m not calling for an upset here by any means, but FIU’s offense has what it takes to be able to hang around with the Red Raiders and their questionable secondary.

There’s also been one-way action on FIU since the opening line of 21.5, with the number quickly moving below 21 and now sitting between 20 and 20.5 across the board.

Lastly, if you put any stock into lookahead spots, Texas Tech does have rival Texas on deck next week.

As long as this number stays at 20 or above, the edge is there for FIU in my eyes.

Pick: FIU +20.5 (Play to +20)

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