You can bet a bucket of bullion coins that when quarterback Geno Smith and wide receiver Stedman Bailey came out of Miramar High and went to West Virginia, they never thought they'd eventually be pulling FIU toward a bowl across the state to the joy of FIU fans. But, Thursday night, Bailey's diving 26-yard catch of Smith's fourth-and-10 pass with six seconds left set up a 28-yard zeroes-on-the-clock field goal as West Virginia dumped South Florida 30-27.
South Florida's not bowl eligible. So, if favored Cincinnati dumps UConn Saturday and Syracuse beats Pittsburgh, FIU's likely to head for the Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 20. That might happen even if just the former happens.
Let's see what the bettors and (legal) bookies say about Saturday. Cincinnati opened a 9 1/2-point favorite and that's remained 9 to 9 1/2 in Vegas, and dropped to 9 offshore. Translation: the vast majority of bettors like Cincinnati to win straight up, but they're evenly split on the spread.
Pitt opened a 13-point favorite, but is down to 10 or 10.5 most places in Vegas, down to 10 offshore. Bettors jumped on the Syracuse side of a pudgy early line but there's clearly not a lot of regard for the college of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Larry Csonka, Floyd Little and Joe Morris.
The Beef O'Brady's Bowl official Twitter account tweeted after Thursday's game, "Wow, could that game have been any closer? What a game! One step closer FIU fans, one step closer."
Meanwhile, the Golden Panthers rained bricks on Atlanta -- 24.1 percent from the field, four of 24 (16.7 percent) from three-point range in a 73-47 loss at Georgia State.
DeJuan Wright had 17, but on five-of-15 shooting. Phil Taylor had 12 points. Domique Ferguson grabbed 12 rebounds. Obviously, there were a lot of those on the offensive end for FIU.
FIU trailed only 27-21 at halftime and a Wright tap-in got FIU within two at 27-25 early in the second half. But after a Jeremy Allen layup with 10:25 left, FIU got only one more field goal, a Gilles Dierickx jumper with 1:14 left. In between, Georgia State ballooned a 46-38 lead into 73-45.
Saturday, FIU faces Alabama State in one of two December home games and the only one before going to the Lumberjack E-Tech Classic in Nacogdoches, Texas, Dec. 10 and 11 against Texas Wesleyan and Stephen F. Austin; Maryland, Dec. 14; and Dayton, Dec. 17.