Florida International U

Big number movement could make FIU football an early season smart bet Thursday

FIU’s Thomas Owens leaps for a catch during his two-touchdown game against Indiana last year.
FIU’s Thomas Owens leaps for a catch during his two-touchdown game against Indiana last year. AP

Massive betting line movement on Thursday’s FIU football season opener at FIU Stadium against Indiana says serious bettors -- the only bettors who get down on early season mid-major games with tight lines -- like IU a whole lot more than FIU.

And that might make FIU one of the biggest early season bargains.

According to Vegasinsider.com‘s consensus of sports books, Indiana opened a three-point favorite over FIU. That shot to nine points by Tuesday morning (a bet on FIU still wins if the Panthers win or lose by less than nine). A six-point movement in a week says bettors are getting down on what they consider a bad mistake by the sports book. In this case, bettors believe Indiana should solidly whip FIU.

Sometimes, belief can come from name rather than fact. Indiana plays in a Power Five conference, the Big Ten, and is coming off the rare (for the Hoosiers) bowl appearance. FIU plays in Conference USA with a streak of four consecutive losing seasons.

But the Hoosiers will be breaking in a new quarterback, Richard Lagow, who’ll be without last year’s offensive lynchpin, Chicago Bears draftee running back Jordan Howard. Nobody alive remembers a truly stout Indiana defense. While FIU’s defense undergoes renovation on the line and in the secondary, the Panthers return the same skill players (quarterback Alex McGough, wide receiver Thomas Owens, tight end Jonnu Smith, running back Alex Gardner) that moved the ball well in last year’s 36-22 loss at Indiana. FIU reached the IU 2-yard-line late in the fourth quarter before a McGough got smacked as he threw and the ensuing interception got returned 96 yards for the game clinching touchdown.

Then, there’s weather: humid as Bloomignton can be in the summer, it’s not the hallucinatory hot humidity of early football season South Florida.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal